Driving is a complex task that demands all of a motorist's attention. Failure to do so can lead to catastrophic consequences, from accidents that leave their victims suffering life-long injuries to those that cause the deaths of one or more of those involved.
With the growing complexity of motor vehicles about to become even more complex with the appearance of cars that can communicate with each other and contain ever more automatic collision avoidance systems, it will become all the more critical that NHTSA has the ability to properly implement, monitor and regulate these systems.
The Toyota unintended acceleration issue has demonstrated, determining why systems fail in complex mechanical and software related interactions is no easy matter. NASA was brought in to assist NHTSA on that matter, and they concluded there was no defect in the electronic throttle control system.
The General Motors defective ignition systems led to the deaths of at least 19 people in crashes of vehicles, and the death toll could be much higher.
The dangers of drunk driving have been well understood for a long time. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have worked for decades to raise awareness to the problem and state laws punishing use of alcohol by drivers have been considerably strengthened during that time.
Things with lots of moving parts are complex to maintain. And a large semi-truck has a lot of moving parts. From the engine and the drive train, made up of hundreds of intricate parts, to springs in the driver's seat, there are thousands of parts of a modern truck.
Across the nation, drunk driving laws have become stricter. A behavior that was once considered "normal," can now send offenders to jail for many years with multiple convictions. Some motorists, who may thought it unremarkable to have "one for the road," would now be appalled at the prospect of having a drink and then immediately getting behind the wheel.
It’s hard to tell if car are becoming safer or more dangerous. Sure, they have better, more effective safety equipment. They come with airbags, seatbelts, ABS brakes, all-wheel drive, traction control, and crumple zones. Some vehicles have crash avoidance systems like forward-looking radar and systems to help keep drivers in their lanes. A few even have systems that watch the driver for signs of fatigue.
A terrible crash over the Labor Day weekend involving six teenagers has left three boys dead. The car accident occurred in the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania, and the Wayne County District Attorney has reported that a 15-year-old girl was driving the vehicle. At the time of the car accident, the girl and two friends had picked up the three boys and were coming back from lunch.