We have not seen a large drop in the number of traffic deaths in recent years, but the volume does appear to have stabilized. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there have been approximately 80,000 roadway fatalities in the prior two years. This will mark the third consecutive year of 40,000 such fatalities. Thus far in 2018, the number of deaths has slightly dropped compared to 2017. The last sizable increase occurred between the span of 2014 and 2016.
The NSC is now tracking a significant amount of data related to auto accidents in all 50 states on a monthly basis in conjunction with the National Center for Health Statistics. Ken Kolosh, who is a statistical expert for the NSC, describes the efforts to reduce roadway deaths as “treading water”. He feels that last year's 18,700 fatalities is an unacceptable number. Through the first half of 2018, there have also been an estimated 2.1 million accidents that have resulted in severe injuries.
There is a large increase in travel during holidays across the U.S. A large percentage of holiday travel is done by automobile, which is actually the mode of transportation that has the highest rate of fatalities. Holiday celebrations often involve alcohol consumption and drivers are more likely to be impaired. Maureen Vogel, of the NSC, reminds Americans to “slow down, pay attention and be prepared for anything” when out on the roads during holiday periods. NSC data indicates that roughly 420 people are killed in traffic accidents over three-day holiday weekends such as Labor Day.
Despite the continuous advancements in automobile safety technology such as airbags, rear-vehicle cameras, and enhanced braking systems, the accident fatality rate has not declined. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 97% of fatal accidents are the result of human error. Law enforcement and safety advocates are emphasizing the importance of “driving defensively, putting away mobile devices and getting plenty of sleep”. Seat belt usage is also of critical importance in preventing traffic fatalities and reducing the severity of collisions that occur among motorists.
NHTSA data shows that approximately 3,450 traffic fatalities were attributed to driving while distracted in 2016, as well as about 400,000 accident injuries. Safewise also reported on distracted driving for 2016. They found that distracted driving was the reason for 9% of total deaths and 6% of deaths specifically among drivers. Distracted driving caused approximately 14% of such incidents over the prior two years. What makes these crashes particularly disturbing is that they are preventable.
Accident Victims Seek Compensation
Those who incur injuries and property damage as a result of a vehicle crash caused by an at-fault motorist have a right to seek financial compensation. The assessment of fault in an accident may be disputed among the parties. Accidents involving multiple vehicles may have increased in complexity. The insurance companies involved will be acting in pursuit of their best interests. In these situations, it is strongly recommended that you retain experienced legal counsel to protect your best interests.