Traffic Fatalities by the Numbers: Are Our Roads Getting Riskier?

traffic fatalities

It’s tough turning on the news or sitting in front of a computer anymore without reading or hearing global tales of whoa. Stories of war, famine, and debates over political correctness receive second place mention right after favorite celebrity break-up scandals. And yet, most Americans’ lives aren’t personally affected by any of those issues on a daily basis.   

Those issues actually just punctuate most lives. The majority of Americans are focused far too much on earning a living that supports the lavish lifestyles to which the Western World has become accustomed. It all begins and ends with the ability to transport… to work, to appointments, to scheduled events. We believe getting in our vehicle is a safe plan of attack. We believe we’re invincible and nothing will change that. We are so wrong, and the annual road fatality statistics prove that. But why is this the case and are our roads getting riskier? 

The Terminal Trilogy

In 2013, road-related accidents resulted in 35,500 across the country. Total fatalities took a slight nose dive to 32,675 in 2014. But it rose significantly in 2015. According to the NHTSA, those numbers rose 9,5% in the first quarter of the year. By the end of 2015, the numbers stabilized to around an 8% lead over total fatalities of the previous year. That’s still the highest road-related fatality documentation since 2008. 

There are specific key factors which lead to these higher numbers, and they begin with the terminal trilogy: alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council’s annual report, alcohol leads the trio with 30.8% cause of fatalities. Speeding is the middle child with 30% cause and distracted driving pulls up just short at 26%. 

America’s Addiction to Data

In case it the countless car company advertisements haven’t made their point by now, texting and driving are completely incompatible bed fellows. Oh, you’ll end up sleeping alright… but likely in a shallow grave. Yes, that’s a harsh thing to read, but it’s a far harsher reality for those dealing with the totally unnecessary loss of life caused by the driver’s addiction to technology. 

That’s not to say technology doesn’t play an essential part in life. Of course it does. But there are times and places for that application. While operating a two-ton piece of machinery is not one of those times. Over 3,000 lives could have been spared in 2014 if people had just focused on the road instead of their laptop, smart phone, or tablet. Time and place, people. 

Teenage Driving

Almost every teenager dreams of the day they’ll earn their shiny new license for freedom. That’s what it is in the mind of the average adolescent. In a parent’s mind, however, it’s the day their baby takes a huge leap toward adulthood. The pain involved can be excruciating. But the heartache of seeing your baby become a man in nothing compared to the heartbreak of not seeing your baby again at all. 

The pros over at over at Brown & Crouppen can help prepare teenage drivers and their families for the challenges, expectations, and exciting adventures attached to this new freedom. Up-to-date road laws, statistics on road dangers, and tips on how to avoid potentially fatal peer pressure can keep everyone safe, secure, and on the road. Your kids will just have to find a new way to drive you crazy.  

Lower Gas Prices 

This one really is a catch 22. After all, who doesn’t love lower gas prices? And that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing lately. In fact, March of 2016 averaged a $2.07 per gallon national average – the highest it’s been this year, yet the lowest it’s been in March since 2009. Unemployment plays a huge role here. 

The national unemployment average fell from 6.6% to 5% between the beginning of 2014 and the end of 2015. That 1.6% may not sound like a lot, but there are 318 million people in the country and over 215 million of them are licensed drivers. While higher employment rates are great for the national economy, it means there are more drivers on the roads – and not just at peak times. Americans are on call to stop taking their roadways for granted.  

Can anything really be done about all unnecessary carnage or is humanity doomed? Well, that depends. Common sense goes a long way here. A vehicle is a deadly weapon in the wrong hands or situation and driving is a privilege. Whether you’ve had a driver’s license for 20 days or 20 years, a single mistake can still lead to injury, incarceration, or even death. 

Accidents are part of life. That’s why coverage is a national requirement. But it takes a lot more than just passing a test or two to becoming a good driver. It takes constant vigilance, respect, common sense, and financial responsibility in the event that other stuff still isn’t enough. Car manufacturers are also designing new advancements in auto technology such as automatic emergency brakes. But that still doesn’t remove the need for personal responsibility. Talking to professionals prior to your next outing can provide an extra layer of protection while you focus on living.

Isobel Riley is a consumer advocate. She loves writing about what she discovers out in the field. Look for her posts on many consumer and safety blog sites.

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