Large electronic signs are being used across the state by the Missouri Highway Patrol in an effort to cut down on dangerous driving. The Missouri Highway Patrol is using more than 250 signs in their efforts, with messages informing drivers to pay attention to the road and buckle up. The efforts are geared to reduce the 550 traffic deaths Missouri roadways have seen this year.
Missouri roadways witnessed 757 people die in 2013. The figures report that 6 out of 10 of these fatalities were from drivers who were not wearing their seat belts. This staggering figure serves as a wake up call for us all to buckle up. While it is reported that 86% of the national driving population wears their seat belts, only 80% of Missourians comply with this safety requirement.
According to Arrive Alive, the leading causes of deadly car accidents in 2013 were:
- Improper lane usage
- Substance impairment
For young drivers 15-20 years of age, traffic collisions are the leading cause of death. While there is still plenty of work to be done, Missouri has seen a reduction of traffic fatalities for the fifth year in a row. We all pray this encouraging trend continues.
The Future of Driving
The Missouri Department of Transportation reports that 93 percent of crashes were the result of human factors, while vehicle and environmental factors played a much smaller role. With these facts in hand, the benefits of driverless cars become more and more apparent.
In a world of driverless cars, the car will likely know its destination from the moment the vehicle begins to move. The vehicle can then immediately began communicating with other vehicles on the roadway and coordinating their movements. We are all too familiar with the traffic jams that occur when two highways merge, however, imagine if the vehicles could being to coordinate that merge three to five miles before they came to that junction, adjusting speeds and distances. The merge would be seamless and fast.
Driverless Cars Now
The destiny of driverless cars is already upon us. Google has been using a fleet of driverless cars for several years with an impeccable safety record. Tesla Motors is also leading the charge of driverless cars coupled with electric powered vehicles. These companies are bound to continue to grow at record levels as human safety and efficiency require these technological advances.
There are already numerous cars on the markets with partial driverless components. BMW and Audi have recently released new models that utilize highway driving assist, parking assist, traffic control, and other safety features designed to help reduce driver error. These advances are only set to increase as technology catches up to human ambition.
You will often hear the comment that people love to drive and we will never give up our vehicles for driverless ones. However, I am of the opinion that driverless cars will free humans from the tedious task of driving and decrease the actual time spent in a car through increased efficiency. Who would not rather have their child in a driverless car that has a safety records 95x better than a driver operated vehicle?
Another interesting topic is the possibility of community vehicles. Uber is trying to combine driverless technology to the personal driver market. They envision a world where families do not even need to own a car. A typical car will sit more than 90% of the time anyway, so why even own it? They propose that driverless cars can be a community asset, picking you up and dropping you off when needed, afterwards returning to the community grid to help out another person. The idea is certainly inspiring and the cost savings that would come through a plan like this would be extremely appealing.
While this this industry is figuring itself out, the fact remains that our roadways are extremely dangerous. Our young drivers remain most at risk. Taking the time to learn some of the most common causes of traffic accidents allows us to focus on things we can all do to become safer drivers. Stay safe.