Projections for Transportation Safety in 2020

Personal Injury Lawyer Indianapolis, IN

A generation after World War II, the economy was booming and every family’s dream was a home in the burbs and a sleek, newly minted Chevrolet, Oldsmobile or Cadillac in the driveway. Americans took cross-country road trips and those who were seriously interested in motoring purchased a membership with the American Automobile Association or Triple A club as it was called. We were wowed by Motown’s engineering and annual design changes that included fins, decorative grills, wrap-around windows, hood ornaments, and white-walled tires outfitted with stainless steel hubcaps.

But the downside to the heavy bodied and accelerated horsepower classic steel cars was the reality that these were some of the most dangerous cars ever built. By 1966, approximately 50,000 fatalities resulted annually from road and highway crashes. Personally, I can recall the many long hours and late evenings that my father, a personal injury lawyer Indianapolis, IN respects, spent at the office researching, writing and working on client claims involving car injuries and wrongful death lawsuits.

Congress addressed this public health crisis by establishing the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the executive branch of government that was created to oversee public safety on America’s highways and reduce the costs of traffic-related health care in America. The success of the agency is reflected in their yearly statistical analysis. Since 1970, advancements in vehicle safety, highway engineering, and an increase in public education and awareness of preventative safety have reduced the number of transportation fatalities by two thirds.

NHTSA functions as a fact-finding research body, gathering crash test data on vehicles, monitoring fuel economy and investigating known manufacturer defects.  Each year NHTSA analyzes data and publishes their reports on the state of transportation in America. NHTSA also funds safety research with grants to universities and organizations like AAA.

In September 1997, NHTSA published their predictions for the year 2020. Let’s open the time capsule and review the accuracy of their forecast twenty-one years later:

  • Fatalities and injuries may rise by as much as 50%. This figure corresponds to the rise in older and younger drivers, both demographics showing overinvolvement in accident rates.
  • With an increased population, congested highways may prove stifling and increase aggressive driving, a factor in the rise of road fatalities.
  • As the population grows and businesses continue to abandon over-crowded urban environments, additional commuting may lead to increased exposure and additional risk.
  • Although catalog shopping reduces short trips to the store, the increased trend in commercial transportation will grow to meet the needs of an expanding population.
  • A strong economy positively correlates to an increase in driving, thereby increasing the risk for injuries and fatalities.
  • With a shift toward managed health care, awareness of public safety heightens at a greater degree than currently seen.
  • With a demand for larger, more comfortable vehicles, an increased desire for greater fuel efficiency will motivate manufacturers to lighten vehicular loads by incorporating lighter weighing products such as aluminum and plastic for exterior components.
  • A built-in feature of automatic crash notification for the purpose of requesting assistance by EMS teams will initiate immediate data linkage back to design to ameliorate the causation of crash injuries.
  • Emerging Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies may reduce the number of collisions by 1 million by the year 2020.

In reviewing the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s vision for America, it would seem they have their finger positioned accurately on the pulse of America; highway fatalities and injuries have continued to decline and intelligent transportation systems are emerging as a force in the domain of transportation. If you have been injured because of another driver’s negligent action, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer Indianapolis, IN offers at Ward & Ward Law Firm to discuss your claim.