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Is driverless tech reducing the risk of road accidents?

Whether you’re in a vehicle, on a bike or on foot, the roads can be dangerous places. Each year in the UK, tens of thousands of people are injured on the highways, many of them seriously.

However, new technology could be helping to reduce accident rates. According to research conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and JATO Dynamics, the increasing use of driver assistance systems is helping to make the roads safer.

Accidents down by 10% in five years

The study suggested that nearly seven in 10 new cars in the UK (66.8%) are available with at least one self-activating safety feature, such as autonomous emergency braking systems, blind spot sensors and parking assistance. These systems help to mitigate driver mistakes, thus reducing the risk of a wide range of accidents.

Nearly 1.8 million vehicles a year are now available with warning systems designed to prevent collisions, while over half of new cars (53.1%) are available with autonomous emergency brakes.

Alongside these advances in vehicle safety systems, the rate of road accidents has been falling. Figures cited by the SMMT show that road accidents in the UK have dropped by nearly 10% since 2012. The organisation suggested this decline is set to continue as car manufacturers strive to create increasingly sophisticated systems to enhance safety.

A report by SMMT and KPMG released in 2015 claimed that automated safety systems and self-driving vehicle technology could lead to a reduction in the number of serious accidents of 25,000 and a reduction in fatalities of 2,500 a year by 2030.

Safety the ‘number one priority’ for car manufacturers

Commenting on this trend, chief executive of the SMMT Mike Hawes said: “Safety is the number one priority for vehicle manufacturers and the pace of technological change is faster than ever before, with driver assistance technologies now available on the majority of vehicles.”

He went on to say that while completely autonomous cars may still be some way off, millions of drivers are already benefiting from technology that’s helping to make the roads a safer place to be.

Basic safety tips

Although improvements in vehicle technology might be reducing the level of danger, it’s essential that you don’t fall into the trap of becoming complacent about safety when you’re on the roads. For example, it pays to bear the following pointers in mind:

  • Never use a handheld mobile behind the wheel. This is illegal and could result in you receiving six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine. You may also be taken to court, where you could get a driving ban and be fined £1,000. Even though using hands-free phones is permitted, don’t use these devices in situations where they may distract you and pose a danger.
  • Stick to sensible speeds. Did you know that a pedestrian is twice as likely to be killed if they’re hit by a vehicle travelling at 35mph than one travelling at 30mph?
  • Don’t drive tired. Fatigue really does cause accidents on the roads. In fact, research commissioned by the Department for Transport found that around one in six crashes resulting in injury and death on A roads and motorways are related to fatigue. If you start to feel tired when you’re behind the wheel, take a break. You should also plan to stop every couple of hours for at least 15 minutes if you’re on a long journey.
  • To give yourself time to react when you’re driving, make sure you leave a minimum of a two second gap between your car and the vehicle in front.
  • Pay extra attention when you’re driving near schools, buses and ice cream vans. Children often behave impulsively around roads and they may appear without warning.
  • Make sure you wear your seatbelt at all times when in a car even if you’re in the rear of the vehicle. In a collision, a rear passenger who isn’t wearing a seatbelt can seriously injury the front seat passenger or driver.
  • Ensure you’re always aware of what’s happening around you when you’re driving, and use your mirrors regularly.

Making a personal injury claim

Even if you’re careful, there’s always a risk that you’ll suffer an accident on the roads. If you’ve experienced an injury and you believe someone else was partly or fully to blame, you may be able to make a road traffic accident claim. You can seek compensation if you suffered an injury while driving, as a passenger or a pedestrian, or if you were riding a bike, motorbike or horse at the time of accident.

The personal injury solicitors at Slater and Gordon can advise if you have a case for compensation. Simply call us on on freephone 0808 175 8000 or contact us online to find out more. The majority of our road traffic accident claims (98%) are funded on a No Win, No Fee basis, meaning you don’t have to risk your finances to pursue justice.