After record-low traffic fatalities in the United States in 2011, the numbers have been moving in the opposite direction. The first half of 2016 saw another significant rise in deaths related to traffic accidents and if the trend continues, the U.S. could be facing 40,000 people killed on our nation’s roads and highways unless drivers begin to change their behavior behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports traffic fatalities from January through June are up over 10 percent from the same period last year, with over 17,700 people losing their lives. In addition, the National Safety Council states there were around 2.2 million people seriously injured in the first six months of 2016. The cost of these injuries and deaths is estimated at $205 billion. For 2015, deaths resulting from traffic accidents exceeded 35,000, a jump of over 7 percent from the previous year.
Officials had hoped that with more vehicles equipped with advanced safety features, that the number of deaths would decline. They still believe this is possible as self-driving cars become mainstream in addition to even more vehicles able to utilize features such as automatic collision avoidance systems, adaptive headlights for making turns and negotiating curves, and alert systems when cars drift out of their lanes.
There are a number of contributing factors involved in the rise of death from traffic accidents. The main issue right now is human error, which The Department of Transportation says plays a role in 94 percent of motor vehicle accidents. More people are on the road as the economy has picked up over the last few years with employment numbers up and gas prices down. Drivers are more distracted than ever, not just using their cell phones to text, but to use apps for directions and even play games such as Pokémon Go. Drowsy driving and drunk driving continue to be a major problem, as well as motorists who choose not to wear a seat belt.
The Transportation Department says the public must alter priorities behind the wheel for any real change to occur. It has allocated $1 million a year for the next three years to begin a federal Vision Zero campaign, working towards ending traffic injuries and deaths by the year 2046. Until this goal is achieved, we are all at risk of being involved in a serious traffic accident. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident or have had a family member tragically killed as the result of another driver’s irresponsible behavior, your main focus is your family. Please contact the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., to help secure the compensation you deserve.