Let’s rewind to thirty years ago. A mandated law stated that rear, high-mounted brake lights were required on every vehicle made from 1986 forward. This decision was due to the increase in the number of Americans who were involved in rear-end accidents. While the goal was to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities, it was also a new and innovative way to alert drivers. However, rear-end collisions still amount for forty percent (40%) of all automobile accidents.
In the 1980s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that the regulation would result in 900,000 fewer crashes, 40,000 fewer injuries and $434 million cut in property damages. According to data between 1988 and 2014, the percentage of accident fatalities actually rose and rear-end injury accidents increased as well.
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However, there was a period when consumers and the car industry were hopeful that the third-light mandate was working. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study found that model year 1986 cars had five percent (5%) fewer rear-end accidents between 1986 and 1991. A “light” seemed to be making a difference – even if it was only by a small margin. The director of operations from Consumer Reports was quoted saying, “Anything that makes you more visible is an improvement. There’s no doubt that consumers are better protected than 30 years ago.”
It seems that safety has been a multi-factorial gain with a push for more intense crash testing, air bag installation in low to midsize vehicles and marketing efforts to spread the importance of car safety. As a whole, the topic of safety inside and outside of a vehicle is more important than ever.
Fast forward to 2016, most vehicles are being equipped with forward and rear facing sensors that let us know when trouble is imminent. These features, like the third brake lights, are meant to decrease the number of accidents and help drivers and passengers remain safe on the road. But will these new features truly help the number of accidents? Our hope is yes as the innovative rear-cameras, forward sensors and airbags will make a significant impact on decreasing the number of car accidents and vehicular fatalities – the same hope that they had thirty (30) years ago.
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