While American roads, highways, and interstates have become somewhat safer over the last few decades, they still account for millions of injuries and deaths every calendar year. And though technology is often viewed as a primary culprit, evidence shows that it’s evolving into a practical solution.

5 Technologies That Are Changing the Game

Distracted driving has always been an issue. From eating fast food while driving to messing with the radio dial in an attempt to find the perfect station, there are always tempting distractions fighting for a driver’s focus. But mobile phones – and smartphones in particular – have introduced an entirely new level of distraction into the driver’s seat.

In 2016 alone, distracted driving claimed 3,450 American lives. Another 391,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. Texting is by far the most dangerous distraction. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, a driver taking his eyes off the road for five seconds can travel the entire length of a football field before looking up.

It’s not just distracted driving that poses a threat to American drivers. There are also vehicle malfunctions – such as brake failure – lack of visibility, poor road conditions, and a slew of other issues.

But for all of the flak that technology catches in relation to road safety, there are actually plenty of exciting innovations on the market that are actively helping to rid our roads, interstates, and highways of unnecessary risks.

1. Anti-Distraction Smartphone Apps

“Our country is experiencing an epidemic of distracted driving, with many accidents caused by lack of attention to the road and surrounding conditions, due to cell phone calls and text messages,” AKD Law explains.

Removing cell phones from vehicles isn’t a viable solution. And though many states now require hands-free operation of phones while driving, there are still plenty of distractions. In an effort to remove as many of these interferences as possible, phone manufacturers, service providers, and app developers have come up with apps and features that actually deactivate SMS capabilities and other smartphone functions when the vehicle is in motion. Some of the top options include AT&T DriveMode, Drivesafe Mode, and Live2Txt.

2. Forward-Collision Warning

One of the more impressive advances in car-related technology over the past few years has been the innovation of forward-collision warning (FCW), which provides a visual, audible, or tactile alert to warn drivers of an impending crash or collision. 

3. Automatic Emergency Braking

Because a driver isn’t always able to respond fast enough to a sudden warning, automatic emergency braking (AEB) typically works in tandem with FCW. As the name suggests, it automatically initiates braking for the driver.

According to one study, FCW has been shown to reduce rear-end crash involvement by 23 percent on its own. When used in tandem with AEB, it reduces crash involvement by 39 percent (and rate of accidents with injuries by 42 percent).

4. Lane-Keeping Assist

When driving at high speeds for long periods of time, it’s not uncommon for a driver to occasionally drift into another lane. But with lane-keeping assist (LKA) technology, this is becoming less of an issue. LKA provides automatic steering and/or braking to effortlessly correct a vehicle once it starts to drift. Other vehicles simply use seat or steering wheel vibrations to notify the driver. Both seem to work well.

5. Backup Camera

For most drivers, backing up presents one of the single biggest risks of driving. There’s the risk of backing into a stationary object – such as another vehicle, a pole, or a mailbox. There’s also the risk of hitting a small child or animal that’s in the driver’s blind spot. But with backup cameras and sensor technology, this has thankfully become less of a problem.

 Developing Safer Roadways

Any time you have multiple tons of steel driving at speeds upwards of 60 or 70 miles per hour, there will be a certain degree of risk involved. However, innovations like the ones highlighted in this article are trying to make senseless accidents and preventable collisions less commonplace.

So the next time you buy a vehicle, spend some time thinking about these technologies and how they could make your driving experience safer in the years to come.