National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has, for several years, been touting the nationwide decline in car accident deaths. NHTSA had also pointed to 2014 as one of the safest years on record. Unfortunately, the trend downward in car accident deaths may not have been due to motorists making safer choices or due to advancements in vehicle safety. Instead, the drop in crash rates may have simply been caused by the fact poor economic conditions kept drivers off the roads.
Now the economy has slowly improved, and gas prices have fallen dramatically, making it more affordable for people to drive. The problem is, in 2015, there has been a significant increase in car accident deaths. Drivers face more risks, and all motorists must come together to make safer decisions so good economic news does not translate into more tragedies on the roads.
Texas Drivers Can Help Keep Crash Risks Down
Wall Street Journal explains: “A slow job market and stagnant wage growth held down driving for years following the 2008 financial crisis.” This slowdown, however, has started to come to an end. In the first half of 2015, unemployment fell to 5.1 percent. Gas prices have also dropped now, to the lowest prices since 2010. These positive economic conditions and more affordable driving options due to low fuel expenditures led to a record number of miles being driven in the first half of 2015.
During this first half of the year, there was also such a dramatic rise in car accident fatalities National Safety Council predicted there would be 14 percent more deaths on the roads in the United States this year. This would have meant more than 40,000 fatalities, which would be the first time this high of a fatality number has happened since 2007.
Now the entire year has come to a close, and NHTSA data shows the fatality rate was not quite as high as NSC feared, but it is still much higher than it was last year or the year before. From 2014 to 2015, there was an 8.1 percent increase in deaths from collisions and a 4.4 percent increase in the fatality rate (which is measured by calculating the number of people who die per 100 million vehicle miles driven). In 2014, there were 32,675 deaths and there was a fatality rate of 1.07, but the numbers are obviously much higher in 2015.
Drivers in Texas and nationwide should try to take steps to stop a further rise in car accident deaths next year. Good economic news should not always mean more people die just because there are more drivers on the road, and drivers need to behave responsibly to keep motorists safe.
Drinking, texting, speeding, tailgating, and other aggressive and dangerous behaviors should all be avoided. Motorists should obey traffic laws, drive cautiously, be aware of increased traffic on the roads, and act accordingly to protect themselves and others. Working together, motorists can hopefully save thousands of lives over the course of 2016.