Despite a significant increase in both auto safety mechanisms and road infrastructure, the U.S. has seen quite a hike in motor vehicle accidents. Reports show that in 2015 alone there were over 2.3 million car accident injuries and more than 35,000 fatalities—a 6.3% increase from 2010.
When you break down these numbers, the fatality rate equates to about 96 deaths each day on America’s roadways. However these are not just statistics on a piece of paper. They are our friends, our coworkers and our family members. Death rates of this magnitude show that traffic accidents have become a serious problem across the entire U.S.
Road safety varies from state to state and some states are more dangerous than others. But which cities and states are more dangerous? And what has contributed to the steep incline in accidents? According to data provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the following ten states were found to have the highest number of fatalities per 100,000 people in 2015: Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, North Dakota, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Montana, Mississippi and Wyoming.
Cause of Steady Increase in Accident Numbers
According to researchers, the increase in accident numbers is due to a multitude of reasons. One in particular is actually the improving U.S. economy. Statistics have shown that the increase in fatalities has a positive correlation with both the total number of miles traveled by drivers as well as the number of newly registered vehicles on the road. As more and more Americans are employed and driving for both work and pleasure, the number of cars on the road is increasing everyday – thus so is the number of accidents.
According to Bradley Rhorer, a Baton Rouge car accident attorney, a handful of cities are in the process of addressing this transportation crisis. Rhorer says Baton Rouge in specific is very focused on both identifying a solution to relieve the traffic congestion in their city as well as funding a project to improve road infrastructure. The number of car accidents in Baton Rouge has almost doubled since 2010.
Distracted driving is another major cause for the rise in auto accidents. Though newer car models are being made with Bluetooth and hands-free technologies, drivers are still tempted to check their smartphones while behind the wheel. Smartphone apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are taking our eyes away from the road for more than a few seconds at a time, leaving plenty of room for error on the roadway. In 2015, the number of distraction-caused car accidents increased to 3,477, about 8 percent higher than the previous year of 3,197 accidents.
Seat belt usage is also very important. In the states rated as most dangerous to drive, it was reported that the number of people found not wearing a seatbelt at the scene of a fatal accident was higher than the number of people who were. Drunk driving also continues to remain a top killer on our roadways, despite its attention in the media. Nearly one-third of drivers killed in car accidents in 2014 had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit of .08.
Crash statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation report that the number of passenger and light-truck fatalities is at its highest since 2009. Motorcycle accident fatalities have increased by about 400, and fatal pedestrian accidents by almost 500—the highest it has been since 1996.
“These numbers are serving notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted. Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake, in spite of decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements”, says Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.
Deborah is right, these numbers are not something to take lightly. When you see a rollover accident on the side of the freeway or a fatal crash on the nightly news, often you don’t think twice about it. However, these numbers are growing out of control. Thousands of people are dying on our nation’s roadways every year and as you can see, a high percentage of the accidents are due to driver error. The choices that we make every time we are behind the wheel can dramatically impact the probability of a fatal accident. Whether you are a distracted driver or you are fully aware of your surroundings, we all need to be cautious and start saving lives on our roadways.
Falynne Knight was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2015 she earned a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University. In 2016 Falynne moved to sunny San Diego where she is currently working at a digital marketing company.