Cars and trucks in today’s time are designed to be safer than ever. Seatbelts, crash avoidance technology, air bags and other improvements of the past decades ensure the safest possible vehicles for driving. But 2015 still resulted in the largest rise in traffic accident deaths of the past half century, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
Traffic Accident Numbers are Concerning
The latest numbers are in for 2015 auto accidents and indicate 4.4 million Americans were seriously injured as the result of a car crash last year. Sadly, 38,300 people died from the same type of accidents. The National Safety Council calls 2015 America’s deadliest driving year since 2008, due to these reported figures. Deaths in 2015 rose eight percent over 2014’s statistics.
Aaron Crane, an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney of Cantor Crane in Phoenix, says all drivers should be concerned about these numbers.
“More and more today, drivers are not paying attention to their obligation for safety when behind the wheel. Safety is being taken for granted and these statistics are reflecting this problem,” Crane said. “Drivers need to be smarter.”
Distracted Driving Traffic Accidents Are on the Rise
Distracted driving was cited by the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as one of the primary problems causing accidents today.
To see the effects of distracted driving in context with other human behaviors that cause auto accident fatalities, below are the top driver behaviors blamed for accidents:
- Speeding: In 2014, 9,262 people were killed in speeding-related accidents.
- Drunk driving: 9,967 people died from drunk driving-related accidents in 2014.
- Running red lights: More than 900 people die each year due to red light running.
- Fatigue: 21 percent of fatal car accidents in 2014 were caused by drowsy driving.
- Distracted driving: 3,179 people died from accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2014.
- Aggressive driving: From 2003 to 2007, aggressive driving played a significant role in 56 percent of auto accident fatalities.
- Swerving out of the designated lane: In 2013, 3,720 accident fatalities were caused by failure to stay in the proper lane.
- Failure to yield right-of-way: 3,149 people lost their lives in 2013 because drivers did not properly yield.
- Reckless driving: 2,116 fatalities were attributed to driver carelessness.
When looking at distracted driving and the number of fatalities resulting from use of handheld electronics and smartphones while driving, it is easy to see how this problem is not improving. In 2013, a reported 2,959 fatal accidents were caused by distracted driving. In 2014, 3,129 people died from the same cause. 2015 figures are expected to be even higher.
Both the NSC and NHTSA are working to increase awareness of distracted driving and its effects on traffic fatalities. Lawmakers are also being influenced to pass laws prohibiting common activities associated with distracted driving, as well as greater penalties for those caught using their cellphone or other devices behind the wheel.
Increases in distracted driving and all traffic fatalities as a whole may be partially blamed on the economy, according to the NHTSA. The NHTSA claims job growth and low fuel costs enormously impact the number of collisions because drivers hit the road more for leisure in 2015. American families traveled more last year due to improvements in disposable income. Teens also drove farther, being better able to afford transportation costs.
No One Is Immune to Distracted Driving Traffic Accidents
With people spending more time in their vehicles, they are “multitasking” more behind the wheel. But this multitasking by answering emails, texting or even talking on cellphones while driving are a root problem within the distracted driving category of fatal accidents.
Even using hands-free devices for phone conversations increase risk for serious accidents, contrary to what many people believe. The National Safety Council has reported that talking on cell phones increase crash risk by four times. Part of the problem, according to the NSC, is that the vast majority of drivers believe themselves to be more capable of multitasking behind the wheel than other drivers. Almost everyone using a cellphone or texting while driving think about fatal accidents, “It won’t happen to me.”
Each year, in line with recent trends, about 3,000 Americans believed themselves safe enough on roadways, likely just as they became fatality statistics due to distracted driving.
Of this issue, Crane makes a plea for people getting behind the wheel. “After almost a decade of declining fatalities in traffic accidents, we are discouraged to see increases in last year’s death rates. It is critical that all drivers put their phones away and pay attention to what matters, the road ahead.”
Thanks to our friend and blog author, Aaron Crane of Cantor Crane, for his insight into personal injury and car accident practice.