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Government Targets Drunk Drivers and Those Not Wearing Seat Belts Through New Auto Technology


If you are ejected from a car, you are more likely to sustain fatal injuries. Earlier this month a man from Greenwood, SC was killed in a single-vehicle crash.

The Index-Journal reported on how Greenwood County Coroner Sonny Cox identified the victim as Dexter Raynard Norman Jr., 21, of 328 Greenbriar Drive. He said Norman appears to have died of injuries he sustained in the wreck.

Norman was driving a car that veered off the right side of the road. It overturned and the driver was ejected, hitting a guide wire and a fence. Police said he was not wearing a seat belt. He was airlifted to a hospital in Greenville, where he later died.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the people who die in car crashes were not restrained at the time. Three decades ago very few motorists wore seat belts. Now, only 1 in 7 people fail to buckle up.

South Carolina has a safety belt law that requires every driver and passenger to buckle up on the highways. The driver is responsible for requiring every occupant 17 years of age or younger to wear a safety belt or be secured in a child restraint system as required by law.

"However, a driver is not responsible for an occupant 17 years of age of age or younger who has a driver's license, special restricted license, or beginner's permit and who is not wearing a safety belt," states Buckle Up South Carolina.

The federal government is also poised to speed up research on safety systems that prevent drivers operating their cars if they are not wearing a seat belt, as well as if they are drunk. South Carolina uses ignition interlock devices for repeat DUI offenders.

Associated Press recently reported that federal transportation officials expect to decide by the end of this year how to encourage car makers to provide sophisticated safety systems in more cars. Some of these systems are already available in high end cars.

A number of vehicles are equipped with systems that warn of an imminent collision and lead the car to brake automatically to avoid a crash or make the impact less severe.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states innovations such as collision avoidance, seat belt interlocks and driver alcohol detection systems, could dramatically reduce deaths on the roads of the United States.

The announcement came as officials released data that pointed to the first rise in highway deaths since 2005. There were 33,561 traffic deaths in 2012, which was 1,082 more than the year before, Associated Press reported.

David Strickland, the head of the NHTSA, told reporters during a conference call that some Americans are still driving drunk and are failing to wear seat belts.

"These technologies are in within reach," he said. "They address the top three highway safety threats. They have the potential to significantly decrease those deaths. We only need the will to act."

The technology is unlikely to be a quick fix to drunk driving or the flouting of seat belt laws. The technology is still at least five years away, Strickland said.

At the Masella Law Firm we represent many people who have been injured in accidents involving drunk drivers. If you have been injured in a car accident through the fault of another driver, or by a drunk driver, you may be able to make a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance policy. Call our Columbia car accident lawyers at 803.748.9990.

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