There are new technologies that are making driving safer as well as lowering car insurance rates. Many auto insurers are able to offer specific discounts for things like electronic stability control and daytime running lights.

Based on research, below is a list of 5 driving innovations that have helped save lives and improved driving awareness, and 1 innovation that hasn't helped save lives.

1.) Red-Light Cameras

While this is a hotly debated topic in some areas, a study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in February found that in 14 large cities that installed red-light cameras, fatal crashes caused by drivers running red lights declined by 24% over a four year period between 2004-2008. Because the cameras are placed at intersections with the highest crash rates, fatalities and even just accidents due to motorists running red lights declined. It becomes a deterrant for those who break the law.

2.) Electronic Stability Control

Snow, ice, and rain are key factors that cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Electronic Stability Control is designed to help maintain control of the car on slippery roads or during high-speed maneuvers. This technology that comes standard on most new vehicles, has reduced the risk of fatal single-car accidents by half. Cars that have the system have a 70% reduced risk of losing control when you run off the road, hit a tree, or are involved in a accident that may cause a roll-over.

3.) Daytime Running Lights

According to the IIHS, cars that have daytime running lights have 5% fewer accidents that cars that don't. They said that daytime running lights help improve your visibility which allows the driver to see both other drivers and pedestrians more easily. It is a low-cost way to help reduce the number of crashes.

4.) Inflatable Seat Belts

Ford Motor Company has just released inflatable seat belts that combine the traditional features of a seat belt with the features of an airbag. The new seat belts spread the crash forces over a larger area of the person's body, which helps reduce pressure on the person's chest and also helps to control head and neck motion. The IIHS does not have any safety data yet because the new seat belts were just released in Ford's 2011 Explorer.

5.) Head Restraints

Redesigned head and seat restraints are higher and fit closer to the back of the motorists' heads than earlier versions. This reduces the risk of whiplash in the event that the vehicle is hit from behind. The restraints keep the head and torso moving together and it has resulted in a 15% decline in injury rates.

And lastly, the 1 innovation that hasn't improved driver safety:

1.) Hands-Free Cell Phones

Although the idea seemed like a no-brainer, it has not paid off as expected by industry experts. A study in 2009 done by the Highway Loss Data Institute looked at insurance claims for 4 jurisdictions before and after bans on hand-held cell phone use went into effect. The study found that there was no change in claim rates after the bans went into effect. Nine states have banned the use of hand-held cell phones, however, research shows no difference in the risk between hand-held and hands-free cell phone usage. The distraction of the conversation is still occurring.

Distracted driving is still one of the biggest causes of accidents. Technologies are continually being developed that will help counteract some of the outcomes of distracted driving. However, despite the technological advancements, the main point is to always remain focused on driving.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.
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