Self-driving cars have a while to go before they can be deemed road-ready according to a report from the Rand Corporation. Many drivers in Kentucky would agree, especially when they consider the history of these vehicles. In May 2016, one man died when his Tesla, which was on Autopilot, crashed into a truck. In March 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle fatally struck a pedestrian in Arizona.
Kentucky drivers can become inattentive to the road if they use their phones, adjust the radio and even talk with passengers. In the five seconds that it takes to read the average text message, drivers going 55 mph will travel the length of a football field.
The use of opioids may be a factor in some fatal two-car accidents in Kentucky and around the country. It is nearly two times more likely that drivers who cause these accidents will test positive for opioids compared to the other drivers in the accident according to a study that was published in JAMA Network Open. Among all fatal accidents, failure to stay in the correct lane was the most common cause.
Kentucky readers may be concerned to learn that US traffic deaths exceeded 40,000 for the third straight year in 2018, according to the National Safety Council. In addition, approximately 4.5 million people sustained serious injuries in car accidents last year.
It is not a good idea to drive on Kentucky roadways when sleep-deprived. Driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. According to a Consumer Reports study, prescription sleep aids could be contributing to the problem. Of 1,767 people surveyed, roughly 20 percent said that they drove within seven hours of taking them.
Excessive alcohol consumption can impair a driver's reaction time, depth perception and peripheral vision, all of which increase the risk for an auto accident. Many drunk driving crashes in Kentucky are fatal. In fact, about one-third of all traffic-related fatalities in the country are DUI crash deaths. Drivers under 24 and motorcyclists are among those most susceptible to drunk driving crashes.
Residents of Kentucky and elsewhere in the U.S. should be aware that traffic accidents are now globally the eighth leading cause of death. However, only 29 percent of global traffic-related deaths involve car occupants. The majority of deaths involve pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
New safety data from the ZF Group may encourage other car parts manufacturers to consider working on external airbag technology. ZF finds that external airbags could, in the case of a side collision, reduce the severity of occupants' injuries by as much as 40 percent. Drivers in Kentucky should know, however, that it will be a while before these are introduced to public; the technology is far from perfect.
Drowsy driving is almost always the result of a lack of sleep. While seven to nine hours of sleeping time is recommended, a U.S. Department of Transportation survey shows that one in three adult drivers in the nation sleeps fewer than seven hours. Drivers in Kentucky should know that drowsiness is to blame for an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. This amounts to about 330,000 crashes a year.
Many people in Kentucky are interested in the potential of autonomous driving technology to cut down on the number of car accidents. One example of semi-autonomous technology currently installed in cars is Tesla's Autopilot system. The automaker issued a voluntary Vehicle Safety Report saying that drivers who use Autopilot are less likely to be involved in a crash than Tesla drivers who turn off Autopilot and far less likely to have an accident than the general driving population.