Traffic Deaths Despite Increased Safety Efforts
For years now car manufacturers, consumer watchdogs and many different government and private organizations have been working to increase safety features in vehicles and on roads. There have been countless improvements including automatic breaking systems, electric stability control systems, rearview cameras and more. Millions have also been put into campaigns to remind drivers to buckle up, don’t text while driving, focus on the road, don’t drink and drive, etc.
Despite all of this, Americans are dying at alarming rates in traffic accidents and the numbers show a steep rise in 2016. This past week the National Safety Council released a traffic fatality report that estimated 40,200 people died from accidents involving motor vehicles in 2016, which is a huge 6% rise from 2015.
These estimates are yet to be 100% confirmed, but if they are, it will be the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 have died in traffic accidents, according to the New York Times. 2015 saw a 7% increase from the previous year meaning that the 2 year increase is at about 14%. This is the largest in more than half a century.
What’s the Problem?
Deborah Hersman, the president at the National Safety Council simplified these numbers down to this simple, but effective and descriptive statement, “Complacency is killing us.” So what is contributing to this increase? Distracted driving. Texting, Google Maps, Snapchat. All of these temptations are taking eyes off of the road. Not to mention the number of eyes. Another reason to consider is the fact that more people are driving with an improving economy and lower gas prices. However, officials and safety advocates still think the biggest reason for this increase is relaxed enforcement of seatbelt usage, drunk driving and speeding by the authorities and lawmakers not passing more strict restrictions in relation to driving.
Laws vary by state, with only 18 requiring seatbelt usage for both front and rear occupants. 15 states have failure to use a seatbelt as a secondary offense only. Drivers can’t get ticketed for not wearing it unless they are getting pulled over for another violation. The NHTSA said that half of all traffic fatalities involve an occupant not wearing a seatbelt. Impaired drivers caused a third of these fatalities.
What Might be the Solution?
The NHTSA and the NTSB along with other nongovernmental organizations started the “Road to Zero” Campaign in the Fall of 2016. The goal is to eliminate all traffic deaths in 30 years, with a lot of hope placed on autonomous vehicles. In addition the NSC is advocating for mandatory motorcycle helmet use laws, ignition locks for repeat drunk drivers so they can’t use a car while impaired and a ban of any kind of phone use while driving.
What do you think about these findings on the rise of traffic deaths? Is this surprising to you or not at all? What do you think can and cannot be solutions? Let us know.
Source: New York Times