Today's novelties may be tomorrow's standard car safety features

Many of today's standard vehicle safety features are easily taken for granted, and drivers may forget that it was not always this way. Basic features like air bags, seat belts, anti-lock brakes and even windshield wipers were once viewed as cutting edge, and were reserved as optional add-ons for those who were willing to pay the price.

Whether by preventing traffic accidents from occurring or making them less dangerous when they do, the task improving vehicle safety is an ongoing process. There is little doubt that some of the innovations considered optional or even extravagant in today's marketplace will be standard issue in the years to come.

Backup cameras

Backup cameras are one recent example of the evolution from novelty to widespread adoption in the motor vehicle industry. A 2010 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that back-up accidents cause about 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths each year, with a disproportionate number of those accidents affecting young children and elderly adults.

Rear-view cameras were introduced as a way to help minimize the risk of these often-tragic accidents, and some vehicle manufacturers began offering the technology as an optional safety feature. In 2014, the federal government announced that back-up cameras would be made mandatory on all new passenger vehicles beginning in May 2018. Widespread adoption of the cameras is expected to save between 59 and 69 lives per year, according to NHTSA estimates.

Drunk driving prevention

Another possible future innovation, which for now is still in the idea stage, is to equip each car with a built-in device that can detect whether or not the driver is under the influence of alcohol. These devices, known as ignition interlocks, are already widely used in Missouri and other states for drivers who have been convicted of certain drunk driving offenses.

In a study that models the effects of making alcohol testing devices a standard vehicle safety feature on all new vehicles, researchers at the University of Michigan found that the approach could reduce drunk driving accidents by as much as 89 percent over a 15-year phase-in period. This would prevent an estimated 1.25 million injuries and nearly 60,000 deaths. Furthermore, by eliminating many of the costs associated with drunk driving accidents, the researchers predicted that the devices would pay for themselves in a matter of just three years.

Protect your legal rights after a crash

If you or a family member has been hurt or killed in a crash in Missouri, it is important to consider the possibility of seeking compensation through the civil legal system. If the crash was caused in whole or in part by someone else's carelessness or negligence, you may be able to receive monetary compensation for your injuries and related expenses, such as lost income, medical bills and more. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Mayer & Rosenberg, P.C., to learn more about the options available for your unique circumstances.

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