On February 15, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “U.S. Road-Death Rates Remain Near 10-Year High.” The article discusses the National Safety Council’s (NSC) statistics on traffic-related fatalities for 2017. The NSC found that traffic-related deaths in the U.S. declined by approximately 1% in the year 2017. While any decline in traffic-related deaths is good news, analysts hoped to see an even larger decline following back to back increases in traffic-related fatalities in 2015 and 2016.
The National Safety Council is one of two primary organizations that publish data on roadway fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also published data but only reports deaths occurring on public roadways. The NSC incorporates incidents from private roadways into their report which slightly increases the number of total fatalities.
The NSC reported a 7% increase in 2014 and a 6% in 2015. Both years’ data came as a surprise because traffic-related deaths per vehicle miles traveled (VMT) have declined since 1921 (see graph below).
The Wall Street Journal article also documents the comments of experts regarding the factors behind the unfortunate trend. A spokesperson for the NSC attributed the rising fatality rate to drunk driving incidents. She cites the differences between the blood alcohol level laws in the United States and other nations and remarks that the best way to drive down roadway deaths is to reduce drunk driving. Automotive executives point to the increased use of hand-held devices as a catalyst for the trend. Automakers have focused resources in recent years to add hands-free technology in their vehicles to reduce this trend among motorists.
Experts are unable to pinpoint the exact reasons the trend in traffic-related fatalities has shifted upward in recent years; however, the problems of drunk driving and smartphone use continue to plague drivers across the nation.
In most cases, traffic accidents result in injuries rather than fatalities. Over the past decade, traffic-related injuries in the U.S. have vacillated between 2.2 million and 2.4 million. The sheer volume of these numbers underscores the necessity of paying attention while driving. Of course, avoid driving while intoxicated and refrain from smartphone use, but it is also imperative to stay alert while operating a motor vehicle realizing that others may not exercise careful driving.
If you think you have been injured as the result of a traffic accident see a doctor, and, as always, please call Groth Law Firm, S.C. at 877-375-7001 with any questions. We are available 24/7 to discuss your options as the victim of someone else’s negligent actions. Our initial consultations are always free.