Vehicles equipped with autonomous technology will soon be common sights on the roads of Arkansas if the plans of technology companies like Google and auto manufacturers like Volvo and Tesla come to fruition. These companies are working hard to overcome lingering public safety concerns, but their efforts may have been dealt a blow by a Feb. 14 accident involving a municipal bus and an SUV equipped with Google's self-driving technology.
Arkansas residents should be aware of the rise in traffic deaths that occurred within the first nine months of 2015. The 9.3 percent increase is especially noticeable in contrast to years of falling traffic fatality numbers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 26,000 individuals died within the first nine months of 2015 alone. In the first nine months of 2014, 23,796 people died in traffic-related accidents.
Arkansas motorists might wonder whether an autonomous vehicle is safe. A decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration appears to be a vote of confidence in this technology, allowing software to be classified as a driver. The proposal from the self-driving car unit of Google was submitted to NHTSA in Nov. 2015, and approval for the classification was provided to the company in Feb. 2016.
Volvo has long been a popular choice for Arkansas residents who primarily look for safety and durability when shopping for a new vehicle. The innovative Swedish car maker has been behind several automotive safety breakthroughs, including the three-point seat belt and systems designed to protect vehicle occupants in side impact collisions. Volvo has also been a leading proponent of self-driving cars, and they believe that autonomous vehicle technology and emerging accident avoidance systems could reduce the number of people killed in Volvo SUVs and cars to zero by 2020.
Arkansas drivers who who do not have much experience when it comes to driving in winter weather should be aware that driving in light snow can actually be more dangerous that driving in snowstorms. In many cases this may be due to snow falling on roads that have not yet been treated.
An unforeseen problem with driverless cars that might interest Arkansas motorists is they are showing twice the accident rate as other vehicle types. The cars, long touted by developers such as Google, are intended to make driving safer.
Arkansas motorists may be surprised to learn that in 2013, there were 32,719 fatalities around the country due to motor vehicle accidents. Driving is one of the most dangerous things most individuals do in their day-to-day life. However, both driver behavior and safety technology can reduce the chances of a fatal accident.
Most people in Arkansas are aware that driving while they are tired is dangerous due to the risk of falling asleep or having slowed reaction times. Despite the danger, drowsy driving is extremely common, according to a 2015 survey conducted by AAA.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council have joined forces to produce a new public service announcement campaign addressing the dangers of underage drinking and driving. Arkansas residents may have already seen the ads, which cast drinking and driving as "the ultimate party foul," on websites and through various social media platforms as well as on television and billboards.
Arkansas motorists may face many dangers during their travels, including red-light running. The safety issue affects not only those who ride in vehicles but also pedestrians and bicyclists as they go about their daily business. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that crashes related to intersection issues numbered more than 2.3 million in 2008. Of these, 733,00 resulted in injury with nearly 8,000 deaths. At least 762 of these fatalities involved red-light running.