Recent estimates from the National Safety Council show U.S. roads have already seen 19,100 traffic fatalities in 2016. This rate follows a two-year increase in traffic-related deaths and an alarming trend in reduced traffic safety. If current trends in traffic fatalities continue, we could see the deadliest year on U.S. roads since 2007.
The National Safety Council Report
The National Safety Council (NSC) released preliminary results of the traffic fatality totals from January 2016 to June 2016. With 19,100 deaths estimated, this rate is nine percent higher than the same period in 2015 and 18 percent higher than the 2014 period.
With current estimates, the NSC believes we may hit more than 40,000 fatalities by year's end — a death toll not seen in nine years. What's more, we are not even through peak accident season, known as the 100 deadliest days of driving.
This period between Memorial Day and Labor Day accounts for a majority of traffic accidents every year. The NSC estimates 438 more traffic fatalities will occur over Labor Day weekend alone. If this comes to pass, it would be the deadliest Labor Day weekend since 2008.
Washington State is feeling the impact of this increase, with 253 deaths in the first half of 2016. This rate is up 12 percent since 2014, when the death toll for the first half of the year was only 225, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
However, our state is not the worst in the nation, with states like Vermont showing a fatality rate up 82 percent from 2014.
What is causing the increase in fatalities?
Economics seems to be the largest contributor to our traffic woes. On the positive side, the economy is recovering from the recession that began in the late 2000s. The economic recovery means more Americans are returning to work, unemployment is down, and more people are commuting or able to afford a car again.
Low gas prices are also a contributing factor, allowing more drivers to take trips without the financial burden. It is easy to see that vehicle travel has become more prevalent this year. In the first half of 2016, Americans traveled an estimated 1.58 trillion miles on U.S. roads, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
Staying Safe While on the Road
Officials warn that drivers are becoming complacent with new safety technology and our obsession with mobile devices. Driving while distracted by a mobile device is one of the leading causes of accidents across the U.S., and even hands-free use does not completely remove the distraction.
Any time you get into a car, you should wear a seatbelt to reduce your risk of fatal injury. Some other safety tips include:
- Never drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Do not drive drowsy and take frequent breaks to rest.
- Avoid driving with people who seem impaired.
- Know how your vehicle's safety features work, but do not rely on them over your own control and focus on the road.
For pedestrians and cyclists who make up a portion of this year's traffic fatalities, safety lies in your hands as well as drivers'.
- Wear light-colored clothing and carry a reflector or light when it is dark.
- Cyclists should wear a helmet and safety gear at all times.
- Obey the traffic signals and only ride/walk in designated areas.
- Do not ride or walk when you are intoxicated or impaired.
- Do not travel while distracted by looking at a mobile device.
- If you must listen to music, do so at a volume that allows you to hear oncoming traffic.
Because 94 percent of traffic deaths are due to human error, officials hope that self-driving cars will produce a sharp decrease in traffic fatalities. Until autonomous cars become a mainstay on our roads, it is up to everyone who travels on or near our roads to look out for their safety as well as others.
Max Meyers Law helps Seattle residents look out for their best interests after serious or fatal car accidents. Contact car accident attorney Max Meyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn about your right to recovery of damages.
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