New Cars *Are* Getting Safer – Don’t Believe What You Read

Ford safety technology

The news is full of gloomy stories these days when it comes to automobiles. It might even be enough to make make you think driving an automobile is becoming more dangerous.

There is, for instance, the recent fatal collision between a Tesla Model S and a semi trailer. And the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said last year was the deadliest on the nation’s highways since 2008.

It’s enough to make you want to swathe yourself in plastic bubble wrap and never leave the house.

But new cars are getting safer, thanks to a host of new technologies. The best part is you’ll probably never have to consciously use most of them, but you’ll nevertheless be glad they’re there.

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The Biggest Factor in Automotive Safety

Safety First sign

Can you remember a time when there has been more bad press for car companies?

The unintended acceleration debacles with Audi in 1986 and Toyota in 2009 were precursors to the multitude of problems that have reared their ugly heads this year. The General Motors ignition switch recall, Chrysler’s defiance of the NHTSA, and now, Volkswagen’s diesel issue all call into question the safety (and honesty) of the world’s automakers.

Yes, bad things can happen when building cars. Parts can be defective, engineering can be faulty, and tests can be cheated.

But let’s not forget the biggest factor in automotive safety:

You.

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Driverless Cars: Encouraging Drinking and Driving?

Google driverless car

Today we learn that a driverless car in China drove 175 miles on a packed expressway without GPS, depending instead on video cameras and radar sensors. Nevada recently passed legislation to legalize self-driving cars—after standards for performance, licensing, etc. are set.

Some car blogs have had a lot of fun reporting that Google’s driverless Prius (above) had its first crash. The company stated that a human driver was at the controls, but this raised the issue of who is at fault when an “autonomous vehicle” crashes. Jalopnik did raise the issue of fault and legal responsibility, and it’s a big one.

They also said :

The biggest battle in auto safety today involves keeping drivers focused on driving. Google’s self-driving car seems like the ultimate distracted driving machine.

When and however they come, driverless cars will give us the benefits of fewer accidents and deaths, less gasoline use and more free time for passengers to play video games, watch mindless movies or get drunk in the car.

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