There were 6.3 million auto accidents in the United States last year. According to Reuters, this is a four percent increase in the number of accidents compared to the year prior. This increase in accidents has had profound consequences. There were 2.44 million people hurt in these accidents, a 4.5 percent increase in the number of people injured.
Injuries mean missed work, loss of productivity and wages, and a host of other possible consequences for victims and their families. There has also been a dramatic increase in auto accident deaths, leaving families irreparably broken. Traffic safety experts are referring to this situation as a crisis, and one every motorist should know about, because it means everyone on the roads is in danger.
Sharp Increase in Car Accident Deaths and Injuries Means No Motorist is Safe
From 2014 to 2015, there were a total of 35,092 fatalities over the course of the year, an increase of 7.2 percent. This was the largest increase in car accident deaths over the course of a single year since 1966. Unfortunately, the increase for 2015 to 2016 is likely going to surpass it.
Although only preliminary data is in from the first six months, there has already been a 10.4 percent rise in fatalities. When data from the second half of the year is in, fatality rates may rise even further, since the second half of the year generally sees more deaths due to bad winter weather and holidays with high accident rates like Thanksgiving and New Years. The fatality rate for the first half of the year is the highest it has been since 2009, before the economic meltdown.
Bicycle, pedestrian, and motorcycle accidents have played a substantial part in increasing the total number of injuries and accidental deaths, as death rates of those outside of vehicles have been rising faster than fatalities of motorists in cars.
An increase in driving helps to explain the crisis that is causing more accidents, injuries, and deaths. However, the rise in vehicle miles driven is just 3.3 percent, so both injury rates and death rates have increased more than just the mileage increase would suggest. Distracted driving may be a big reason why, as an increasing number of people have smart phones and infotainment systems built into their vehicles. These types of devices can present a dangerous distraction to drivers.
It is up to drivers to see these rising crash rates and respond appropriately to try to keep themselves and others safe. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is partnering with other agencies to try to improve road safety and it has set a 30-year timeline for trying to bring fatal crash rates down to zero. Motorists need to do their part to turn around the trend of rising car accident fatalities.