Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

Driving Deaths Continue to Rise, and Drunk Driving a Major Cause

A multiple car crash

For a second straight year, preliminary reports show that the nationwide rate of traffic fatalities increased in 2016. Researchers point to human error as the leading cause of these deaths, chief among them being drunk driving. Technology may be able to provide a solution to this issue, in the form of in-vehicle blood alcohol level testing.

Deaths from accidents increasing, and due to human factors

According to research by the NSC, 40,200 people are estimated to have died in traffic accidents across the US in 2016. This is a 6% increase from the 37,757 killed in 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014’s total of 35,398. The NSC estimates that 4.6 million people were forced to seek medical care after a motor vehicle accident last year.

According to Deborah Horman, president of the NSC, human factors are the cause of over 90% of all US traffic fatalities, requiring that individuals and lawmakers take responsibility for the increases in traffic fatalities. The NSC has found that the three most common causes of motor vehicle accidents, year after year, are drunk driving, speed, and distracted driving. The most substantial of these? Drunk driving, which causes a staggering 30.8% of all traffic fatalities.

Researchers investigate tech solutions

Seeking alternative solutions to the issue of drunk driving, the NHTSA has formed a partnership with Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). DADSS is currently investigating options for systems that would come pre-installed in vehicles and could test a driver’s blood alcohol level in a quick and accurate manner. DADSS envisions that, once drivers discover the number of lives that can be saved by reducing drunk driving, drivers will want this feature in their vehicles.

The organization is considering two main testing options: breath and touch. Breath tests of blood alcohol levels have an established track record of accuracy, but the challenge in creating such a system is in ensuring that none of a passenger’s breath contaminates the sample from the driver while also keeping the testing mechanism unobtrusive. The touch testing mechanism would rely on infrared lights installed in the vehicle’s steering wheel that could measure the amount of blood in the driver’s system through their skin. So far, two automotive accessory manufacturers have volunteered to create prototypes of each of these systems.

If you’ve been hurt in a crash with a drunk, distracted, or otherwise dangerous driver in Southern California, contact the knowledgeable, experienced, and effective Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy for a consultation, at 310-553-6630.

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