Autonomous-driving technology may help address one of the top causes of auto accident fatalities in Colorado: distracted driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently awarded recognition to the Swedish automaker Volvo for its long-standing emphasis on vehicle safety. Volvo’s focus on auto safety began nearly 60 years ago, when it introduced the three-point seatbelt to the automotive industry and consumers. Since that time, the carmaker has expanded its development of safety features, and today it’s using some of the latest technology to keep vehicle occupants safe on the road.

Volvo’s Bold Safety Promise

Nearly ten years ago, Volvo announced a safety goal called “Vision 2020.” Volvo’s director of safety strategy and requirements, Thomas Broberg, made what seemed at the time a bold statement. He declared that beginning in 2020, no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo. Evidence of that philosophy can be seen today in one of Volvo’s newest cars, the XC60.

J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information service company, recently published a review highlighting the safety features of the 2018 XC60, which Volvo calls one of the safest cars ever produced.

One new technological feature included in the new model is Steer Assist, which is part of a package of driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technologies. Steering Assist works together with the vehicle’s Oncoming Lane Mitigation system. Oncoming Lane Mitigation helps a motorist avoid a possible head-on collision with another car, person or animal. Steer Assist also works with the car’s Blind Spot Information System,  which will alert the driver if a car in his/her blind spot, and if needed, will guide the Volvo back to its own lane.

In addition, drivers will experience an Active High Beam System and Run-Off Road Mitigation, among other safety features. According to Volvo, the newest technological features are steps Volvo is taking to develop and produce a fully autonomous car.

Colorado Officials Note That New Car Tech Should Help Cut Down on Auto Accident Deaths

According to reports, 2016 was the deadliest year on U.S. roads in a nearly a decade. The National Safety Council noted that an estimated 40,000 people died last year in vehicle crashes. Locally, the State of Colorado saw a spike in traffic fatalities last year as 605 people died on state roadways. Since 2014, deaths from auto accidents in Colorado have increased by 24 percent. The last time Colorado noted more than 600 fatalities was in 2005 when 606 people died in crashes. The counties with the highest number of fatalities last year were Adams, Weld, Denver and El Paso.

Officials say distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of collisions, and hope that autonomous-car technology will lead to a reduction in traffic deaths. NHTSA officials said last year that self-driving cars or safety features may be capable of reducing traffic deaths by half.

Of course, all the technology in the world can’t stop every accident, especially when human behavior, such as not wearing a seat belt or driving drunk, is involved. However, moving forward, officials say they are encouraging vehicle manufacturers to continue research and development of technology that can help save lives.

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