I do embedded C programming. With this said, I don't think that improvements to the tools are impossible - sure, I have to prevent buffer overflows myself at the present time - but it doesn't have to be this way. The key thing about embedded programming is that hardware designers are lazy. They want to do the least amount of work possible. So instead of making their hardware easy to program, they like to make it in a way that is easiest to them. So every data sheet contains all kinds of special exceptions to the rules that you the programmer have to take into account. And instead of supporting some fancy, easy to program in language, they do the minimum amount of work to make a C compiler work. (it's really minimal - you only need to map a few base instructions to opcodes on the hardware and you can bootstrap the C compiler).
One major issue is while every microcontroller or DSP generally has roughly the same stuff - various ports that do the same thing, the MAC instruction, usually a von Neuman architecture, usually interrupts and DMA - you basically have to scrape the datasheet for weeks to do something you've done before on a different microcontroller.