2017 reveals an alarming upward trend in motor vehicle fatalities with estimated deaths during the first half of the year being up by eight percent since 2015. It’s estimated that over 18,000 people have been killed in car accidents and another 2 million seriously injured so far this year.
Car Accident Fatalities are on the Rise
According to the National Safety Council, there was an alarming upward trend in motor vehicle fatalities during the first six months of 2017. In 2016, car accidents killed an estimated 40,000 people, These figures accounted for a 6 percent increase over 2015 figures and was the largest percentage increase in fatalities in 53 years. Since January 2017, approximately 18,680 people have died and another two million people have been seriously injured on U.S. roads and highways.
Over the last 100 years, the National Safety Council, a nonprofit organization, has tracked motor vehicle fatality trends throughout the U.S. As a leading advocate for motor vehicle safety, the council focuses on eliminating injuries and fatalities through research and education for consumers. The National Safety Council works to make U.S. roadways safer for drivers through a variety of programs. Their defensive driver education program teaches millions of drivers safe driving techniques each year. To promote safer driving and eliminate accidents from distracted driving, they sponsor an annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month each year in April.
Leading Causes of Car Accidents
According to U.S. accident data statistics, there are approximately 100 people killed in car accidents every day and millions of people who are seriously injured. The leading cause of car accidents include:
In the U.S., distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents. Talking or texting on a cell phone, dashboard videos and selfies, eating and drinking, grooming, and reading are just some of the ways drivers get distracted behind the wheel. Distracted driving is a growing concern with young drivers under the age of 24. Distracted driving among teenage drivers is a common cause of car accidents and injuries handled by a Chicago car accident lawyer. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. In 2015, approximately 2,500 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed and over 220,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries.
Speed is a leading cause of car crashes. In a speeding car, a driver has less time to react to unexpected circumstances, so it’s more difficult to keep the car from skidding, correct the car’s path, and prevent the car from crashing into something. High speeds also exacerbate other roadway issues such as distracted driving, impaired driving, and weather or roadway conditions. Since 2015, speed limits have been increased in at least six states. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed limit increases have contributed to an additional 33,000 fatalities on U.S. roadways since 2015. In Illinois, 37 percent of car crashes in 2015 involved speeding, accounting for nearly 400 fatalities.
Impaired driving encompasses a variety of issues including drunk driving, drugged driving, drowsy driving, and weather conditions.
- Drunk Driving – According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 people die due to drunk driving in the United States every day. This is equivalent to one death every 53 minutes. Over the past decade, drunk driving has resulted in nearly 113,000 deaths. Between 2005 and 2014, drunk driving was the cause of 30 percent of car accident fatalities.
- Drugged Driving – In addition to alcohol, many drivers are impaired by both legal and illegal drugs while behind the wheel. Illegal drugs that include a variety of controlled substances, as well as legal drugs that include prescription pain medications are putting drivers at higher risk for car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 22 percent of drivers test positive for illegal, over-the-counter, or prescription drugs.
- Drowsy Driving – Although driving while feeling tired or sleepy may seem trivial to some drivers, drowsy driving can have deadly consequences. Drowsy driving causes over one million car accidents every year. Getting behind the wheel while fatigued and sleepy impairs judgment, slows decision-making, and reduces alertness and attention to the road and surroundings. Drivers who actually fall asleep at the wheel are three times as likely to die in a car crash.
- Weather Conditions – Weather-related accidents occur while driving under adverse conditions such as rain, fog, snow, sleet, and ice. Weather conditions have a significant impact on driver visibility and abilities to avoid sudden accidents. Between 2005 and 2014, there were approximately 460,000 people injured and 5,900 people killed from weather-related car accidents, accounting for 33 percent of accidents within the 10-year span. In Illinois, a Chicago car accident lawyer sees a large number of weather-related car accidents during the winter months.