After steadily declining for most of the past decade, traffic fatalities in the United States have taken a turn for the worst. According to a recent report by the National Safety Council, the number of traffic fatalities in the first half of 2015 rose an alarming 14 percent. At the current rate, this year will be the deadliest year on record for American drivers since 2007.
According to the report, approximately 18,600 individuals lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents between January through June of 2015, compared to an estimated 16,400 during the same period of 2014. Additionally, the estimated cost of these deaths is a whopping $152 billion- up a full 24 percent from the previous year. Costs include lost productivity, medical expenses, property damages, administrative costs and costs to employers the report states.
A report by AAA estimates that nearly 50 million individuals will travel at least 50 miles during the upcoming holiday weekend, filling highways with congestion and frustration. As lower fuel prices and an improved economy prompt an increasing number of Americans to travel along our nations roadways, the nation’s highway safety chief is scrambling to find ways to reduce the number of traffic fatalities.
While there is not clear enough data at this point to determine the exact cause of the increase in fatal traffic accidents, some of the factors that are currently being investigated include:
- More Miles Traveled: According to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans traveled an estimated 1.54 trillion miles during the first six months of 2015. More miles could equal more chances for accidents.
- Distracted Driving: Despite recent laws that make it illegal to text and drive, the use of smartphones and similar devices continues to plague the roadways of America.
- Teenagers: An increasing number of teenagers are behind the wheel. Lack of experience and increased distractions that many teens experience like noise from other passengers, loud music and electronics could be playing a part in the rise.
Mark Rosekind, of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that these disturbing statistics are a “wake up call”. He urges drivers to be more aware of their surroundings by eliminating distractions. He also warns drivers to avoid drunken driving, drugged driving and other actions that could cost them their lives. According to research by the NHTSA, 94 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by human decisions.