Saving lives: Improved vehicle designs bring down death rates

6 February 2015 - By Eugene Herbert - The RAC Group

Hi Folks…


Over the years, we have seen on our roads a number of entry level (read affordable = improved mobility) vehicles, some of which have not featured all the relevant (some will argue essential and non-negotiable) active and passive safety features.


Clearly the following research from the US highlights the benefits from driving “state of the art” vehicles, and how many lives are saved as a result. The question that can be reasonably asked is – how does this impact on us in South Africa and to what extent should this impact on our buying decisions?


It’s not so much a case of ‘should all new vehicles have all the features or not’ but relates more to how this should be seen relative to the driver’s previous form of transport.  Simply put – provided the driver is competent – the new vehicle is significantly safer than being driven in a TAXI with questionable roadworthiness and a ‘kamikaze’ pilot behind the wheel.


The vehicles passive and active safety features become relative in the bigger picture, particularly when viewed from the benefits afforded new entry drivers in terms of employment and enhanced standards of living - all because of being mobile.


While we can pontificate about safety (and for which all should be ardent supporters) we have to take cognizance of the buying public – such is the case with the buying public who have purchased the Datsun GO in the hundreds. The only caveat that should stand is: Let the drivers be properly qualified and trained.


The research  mentioned earlier  indicates that drivers of late-model vehicles are a third less likely to die in crashes than they were a few years ago, but the gap between the best and worst vehicles remains wide. 



The chances of dying in a crash in a late-model vehicle have fallen by more than a third in three years, the latest IIHS calculations of driver death rates show. Among 2011 models, a record nine vehicles have driver death rates of zero. However, the gap between the safest and riskiest models remains wide, and three cars have death rates exceeding 100 per million registered vehicle years.


Improved vehicle designs and safety technology have a lot to do with the continuing decline in fatality risk. In a related study, Institute researchers estimated how much of the decline was due to changes in the vehicle fleet during 1985-2012. They found that vehicle changes — including improved structural designs, the addition of safety features and an evolving mix of vehicle types — were the main source of declining risk from 1993 through 2006. These changes continued to contribute to later declines as well, though other factors such as the weak economy also appear to have played a role.


What do we learn from this: It is highly desirable to have the best, but the best is probably that which we can afford?


Till next time – Drive Safe and be sure that your vehicle is safe.


Eugene Herbert


Group Managing Director

The RAC Group



http://advanceddriving.co.za

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