The drive to help you survive your drive

November 13, 2014

With the midterm elections over, Americans can bravely step out from beneath the shadow of ISIS and Ebola fear mongering and concentrate on the mundane, everyday threats to our lives.

According to the National Highway Traffic safety Administration, there were an estimated 9,754,000 vehicles involved in police-reported traffic crashes in 2012, the last year with fully reported figures. Almost all of those (96 percent) were passenger vehicles. There were also 45,586 vehicles involved in fatal crashes, of which 78 percent (35,346) were passenger vehicles. Overall in 2012, “there were 21,667 passenger vehicle occupants who lost their lives in traffic crashes, and an estimated 2.09 million were injured.”

That’s a lot of crashes and a lot of deaths, and the recent raft of automotive recalls hasn’t done much to bolster confidence. As Reuters reported yesterday, Toyota has now announced a recall of 362,000 vehicles for three different safety issues.

Meanwhile, despite over 17 million recalls, Japanese airbag maker Takata issued a textbook non-denial denial, even as it told Reuters that it has modified the composition of an air bag propellant that contains a volatile chemical at the center of the recall. “There is no admission of a defect with the original version,” said a Takata official. “There has not been any finding that ammonium nitrate or the earlier composition was somehow flawed. We changed the composition in an effort to improve quality.”

Of course, a great way to avoid being killed by one’s airbag is to avoid deploying one’s airbag. As this Reuters graphic shows, the less drivers have to do with driving, the better. Instead, auto makers have developed a combination of technologies including light and radar (LIDAR), cameras, sensors and radar to alert drivers of perilous situations—and to actively avoid collisions. Naturally, the success of these technologies relies on their not being subject to recall notices, but that’s another matter. 

Or, as we’ve written in this space before, you could just get the biggest vehicle that gas prices will allow and bet on your ability to crush competing road warriors.


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