seat belts, shoulder harnesses, airbags, skid controls, the list of modern technologies that have infiltrated our cars and trucks are lengthy. Their cost considerable, the inevitable question, do they make us safer on the road?

Overall, deaths are down nationally and locally. http://www.maryland-law.com/library/maryland-motor-vehicle-death-cases.cfm

Doubtless, some of this may be attributable to extensive efforts to educate the public regarding dangerous driving practices. Better roadway engineering and more effective traffic safety enforcement may also play a role. See : http://www.maryland-law.com/blog/reducing-motor-vehicle-deaths-the-three-es.cfm
 
However, the multi-billion dollar question is do technologies such as A.B.S. save lives in car and truck collisions?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration broaches this question in a recently published technical report.  http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811182.PDF   The conclusions reached in that report may suprise and disappoint some.

The main question addressed is essentially a cost-benefit analysis of anti-lock braking systems. With regard to fatal collisions, the study finds  "The Long-Term overall effect of ABS on fatal crash involvements is close to zero."

The study did find that non-fatal crashes were reduced or beneficially impacted by A.B.S. performance.

Some anomalous findings include a substantial increase in fatal run-off road crashes with A.B.S. The authors are at pains to say that they cannot reconcile the actual crash data with the vaunted performance of A.B.S. on test tracks.

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