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Better vehicle design lowers driver death rates

Careful driving and seat belt use make the California roads safe. However, vehicle models often play a role in safety as well. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has identified significant progress in vehicle design that has lowered death rates among drivers. The institute's calculations for 2011 models showed that nine models achieved driver death rates of zero.

As little as eight years ago, no vehicle models could boast of zero driver deaths. The institute attributes the safety gains to designs that protect drivers along with advances in automotive technology. Vehicles that recorded no driver deaths for 2011 even included lower cost vehicles such as the Subaru Legacy and Honda Odyssey minivan.

The appearance of SUVs in the top nine represented a substantial turnaround. Until 10 years ago, SUVs had notoriously bad safety records because of their tendency to roll over in crashes. The technological development of electronic stability control appears to have corrected this problem. Deaths from rollovers for 2011 models declined by over 75 percent compared to 2004 models. With technological improvements that prevent rollovers, SUVs made safety gains because their size insulates drivers from some harm. Small cars, however, remain dangerous to drivers, especially minicar models.

Although technology has produced great safety accomplishments, statistics mean little to people injured in crashes, especially when negligent drivers cause them. A person confronted by medical expenses and lost income after being hurt in a wreck could receive support from an attorney familiar with litigating personal injury lawsuits. While a victim recuperates, an attorney could manage negotiations with an insurance company or file a lawsuit. The lawyer could organize evidence about the negligent driver's drinking, texting or speeding to justify a claim for compensation.

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