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Technology, driver behavior keys to safer roads

Oklahoma residents may be surprised to learn that for most of them, getting into a motor vehicle is one of the riskiest activities that they regularly engage in. In 2013, there were more than 32,000 fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents around the country, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

However, driving can be made safer through both changing driver behavior and through technology. For example, based on that 2013 NHTSA data, reducing a daily round-trip work commute by two miles would also reduce the chance of a fatality from one in 30,500 to one in 36,500, based on working 250 days a year.

Safety technology ranges from seat belts to self-driving cars. Safety standards as mandated by the federal government began in 1968 although at least some cars had included seat belts for several years prior to that. The NHTSA reports that between 1960 and 2012, lives were increasingly saved by these technologies. About 27,600 lives were saved in 2012 by safety technology, and over the entire period of the study, the annual average was 11,575. Self-driving cars may make the roads even safer. A conservative estimate is that they would cut the death rate in half. The death rate would be roughly one fatality for every 200 million vehicle miles versus the 2013 rate of 1.09 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles.

Unfortunately, despite better technology and safer vehicles, serious accidents still occur. A person who suffers severe injuries in such an accident that was caused by the negligence of another motorist may find that the other driver is uninsured or underinsured or that the responsible driver's insurance company simply offers an inadequate amount. In such an event, an injured victim might want to have the assistance of a personal injury attorney in seeking appropriate damages from the at-fault driver for the losses that have been sustained.

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