Has technology made your vehicle safer?

Ok, ok, I know our topic this week is technology and all the super duper gizmos and gadgets in the modern car.  Bear with me as I reminisce about how much and how quickly our vehicles have and continue to change.

Long before my Dad sparked my interest in cars, his Mom drove a horse and buggy.  My Grandma Olga was born in the late 1800s and saw a lot of change in her 91 years.  She taught school and really did travel by buggy in Mt. Olive, Illinois.

Over the years she experienced a lot of changes in transportation. She lived through my father’s love of convertibles and motorcycles, tolerated my brother’s and my varying taste in vehicles and even visited the Texas bluebonnets in my turbo charged Dodge in the late 80s. All this, and she never herself drove a motorized vehicle more than a mile in her life.

Of all the new features in cars today I am certain that Grandma would be most pleased with the safety innovations we have seen in recent years.  She would be happy to know that her great-grandson is driving a vehicle with air bags, anti-lock brakes and she would probably even think that the Garmin stuck to the front window is pretty cool.

Well Grandma, I agree with you!  Some of the gadgets are pretty groovy, but the most important advancements in vehicles improve our safety.  With more drivers than ever on the roads today the number of fatal accidents has declined by almost 33%.  In 1994 there were 21.15 fatalities for every 100,000 registered vehicles.  By 2008 it had dropped to 14.53 according to NAFTA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Hmmmm, people are driving more and yet vehicle fatality rates are falling.  Sounds like a great equation and this is why I think it is happening.

The more safety enhancements appear in vehicles the less that accidents occur and the safer we are when they do happen. Technology such as Side Air Bags and Electronic Stability Control systems come standard on most vehicles. Manufacturers are including the more advanced safety systems on more and more vehicles too.  Collision avoidance systems and adaptive cruise control are becoming more common. The ever faithful seat belt has also been improved and its use is enforced.

Vehicle improvements cannot take all the credit.  National and local initiatives that have reduced drunk driving played a part, but from inside the auto industry it is an amazing new world of technology and the complex additions that impact driver safety will remain my favorites.

The next front will involve other driving distractions like texting and cell phones. Wow, that sounds like another discussion!

So, what is your favorite (or not so favorite) technology?

Happy and safe driving,

That Car Lady

Lynn Beckwith


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