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NHTSA: Nearly all car crashes are due to human error

As winter weather has pounded North Carolina over the past couple of days, reports of weather-related car crashes have poured in. There is no doubt that some motor vehicle accidents that occur in snowy and icy weather are due to substandard road conditions.

But there is also no doubt that most traffic crashes are not caused by weather or mechanical failure or poor road design. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says "94 percent of serious crashes are due to dangerous choices or errors people make behind the wheel."

In 2016, more than 37,000 people lost their lives in crashes on U.S. highways, the NHTSA says. Mistakes that contributed to that staggering total include distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding and drowsy driving, among others.

Unfortunately, people make those choices every day and harm themselves and others in the process.

The NHTSA says it is committed to the advancement of self-driving technologies that, it claims, will largely eliminate human error from the traffic safety equation. If that goal had been achieved in 2016, more than 35,000 lives would have been spared, in addition to hundreds of thousands of injuries avoided.

Though we are far from that lofty and admirable target, the federal agency says today's new motor vehicles represent real progress. Some new cars and trucks have technologies that help drivers avoid unsafe lane changes and lane-drift, while other tech applies the vehicle's brakes automatically if a vehicle ahead suddenly slows or stops. There are also sensors to help drivers avoid pedestrians and identify other safety risks.

Those who have been injured -- or have lost a loved one -- in a car accident caused by a reckless or negligent driver can pursue maximum compensation for all damages with the help of an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney.

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