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More capable vehicles aren't enough to make the roads safer

The relatively recent increase in traffic fatalities in Kentucky and around the country has alarmed many road safety advocates. Unfortunately, some sophisticated electronic equipment found in modern vehicles could actually be contributing to the problem. While the newest cars, SUVs and pickup trucks often feature autonomous safety systems that can anticipate accidents and take evasive action automatically, they're also quiet, comfortable and isolate motorists from the road.

This level of vehicular luxury and the busy schedules kept by many Americans are among the reasons why 21 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents are caused by drivers who doze off while behind the wheel. Other serious crashes are caused by motorists who allow their minds to wander or lose concentration due to texting or other distractions. Another major road safety issue is that modern cars are usually far more capable than the people who are driving them.

Motorists once had to slow down to avoid crashes in dangerous situations, but modern vehicles feature an array of driver aids that bail motorists out of emergency situations. Capable vehicles being operated by less than capable drivers is a growing road safety problem. Figures suggest that overconfidence is a factor in 11 percent of all crashes. Overconfidence may be cited as a cause when drivers crash because they took a turn or bend too quickly, did not slow down when road conditions worsened or attempted to make a dangerous maneuver.

While modern safety technology may not be making the nation's roads safer, it sometimes makes it easier to establish fault or negligence in car accident lawsuits. Drivers often claim that they did all that they could to avoid a crash, but the data stored by their vehicles could be used by attorneys to demonstrate that they were speeding or failed to take appropriate action.

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