Many holidays coincide with an increase in motor vehicle accidents. Independence Day weekend sees a rise in traffic injuries and deaths every year. Part of the problem is simply that more people drive on holidays than at other times of the year. More miles travelled naturally leads to more crashes. Beyond the extra miles, however, is a tendency for people to use poor judgment in the way they celebrate. Drinking and driving arrests tend to increase sharply during holidays. This year, the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety is taking steps to target drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Congress is currently considering an amendment that would repeal the changes to truck drivers' hours of service rules that took effect last year. The rule requiring truckers to include two consecutive periods of rest from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. in order to "restart" their work week has been under fire from some in the industry since it was first proposed. The goal of the rule is to limit the number of truck drivers who are driving while fatigued. Opponents say that it does not accomplish this goal, but it does force truckers onto the road during higher traffic periods. Early data concerning the new rules is limited, but could support the conclusion that the rules have improved safety.
A study of impact of auto accidents in 2010 reveals the extent of the damage nationwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently completed a study analyzing the economic and societal impact of all motor vehicle crashes in a given year. The total "cost" of all the crashes in 2010 came to $871 billion. Car crashes claimed $277 billion in economic costs alone, ignoring the impact of lost lives and serious injuries.
Early reports on front crash prevention technology were mixed, at best. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted testing showing that these systems had very little impact on driver and passenger safety in avoiding car collisions. Some automakers reviewed the testing to see what worked and what didn't and have made changes. The most recent safety ratings from IIHS show improvement for 21 of the 24 vehicles tested. While only the newest vehicles have these systems, the long-term impact of the technology could be substantial.