Saving Tony Reyes and 425,000 Other Americans: The Technology Exists TODAY

140 9/11s?  Since 2001, over 425,000 Americans have died on our roadways.  That’s 140 TIMES the loss of life on 9/11.  This is to say nothing of injuries and property damage.  Traffic accidents are now the #1 cause of death for Americans aged 3 – 34.

When Tony Reyes died on Highway 101 several weeks ago there were actually two accidents.  Tony somehow hit the sidewall of the highway, and while he was inspecting the damage he was hit by a passing car.

BOTH of these accidents were preventable with technology that exists TODAY.

Tony probably wandered from his lane and hit one of the sidewalls of the highway. He needed a technology called Lane Departure Warning (LDW) that would have warned him (such as through a vibrating the steering wheel) when that started to happen.  The car that hit him needed obstacle detection – a camera, LiDAR or other sensor that tells the car that it is about to hit something, and intervenes to do something about it with either a warning or by taking control of steering and/or brake.

These and many other safety technologies have existed for years and could be saving many lives. Why aren’t they on EVERY car?

  1. Lawyers.  New car technology has to be perfect before it is released.  If a technology saves ten lives but might cost one, car companies won’t release it due to legal concerns.
  2. Cost reduction.  New safety technologies must be very cheap because consumers won’t pay more for safety features.  This is why you see new life-saving features on high-end cars first.  If we were all rich enough we could all buy cars with LDW.

NHTSA, do your job.  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in charge of highway safety.  As evidenced by the body count, I’d say they are doing a pretty crappy job.

The car companies are afraid of NHTSA because they could mandate the kind of safety technology that could have saved Tony.  There is so much great technology that exists NOW to save lives but the car companies don’t want NHTSA to require it before it is fully tested or cost reduced.

As a result of this terrible system many lives are shattered, and not just those killed or injured.

More urgent than walled up lanes.  As bowlers we complain about how the USBC has failed to contain the scoring explosion by inadequately regulating ball technology, lane conditions, etc.  NHTSA is guilty of the same kind of passive negligence but in this case we measure their shortcomings not with lost bowlers, but with lost friends and loved ones.

RIP Tony.

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