There’s no denying the facts, cars are much safer than they’ve ever been. It seems that cars of today are so well-equipped with safety devices that we feel as if our vehicles are going to surround us in a blanket of safety if there’s an actually accident. Not only do we have several airbags, crumple zones and seatbelts all made to help keep us from becoming injured in an accident, there are now many driver assistance technologies installed to help ensure we can have all the information we want to stay safe from behind the wheel.
Not only do we have the physical safety devices and the driver assistance technologies in our cars, some have items such as automatic emergency braking and collision avoidance systems to help keep us from actually being involved in a collision, but the numbers don’t lie. For the first six months of the year the number of traffic fatalities in the US is up nine percent over last year according to the National Safety Council which is certainly an alarming rate. What’s the cause of this increase in fatalities? We know our cars are safer, so why do we have more fatalities than a year ago?
Last year there were more new cars sold in the US than in any year before. This year seems to be trending the same way and we expect to see this sales increase continue for at least two more years. This puts more drivers on the road than ever before which is certainly a direct correlation to having more fatalities on the roads. You can’t expect to have more vehicles on the road and not experience more crashes and fatalities, regardless of the increased safety of the vehicles being driven, that’s common sense.
Another factor could be the fact that gas prices are down to a low that hasn’t been seen in many years. For the first six months of this year we’ve driven 3.3 percent more miles than the same time last year which is so far a total of 1.58 trillion miles. More miles plus more vehicles equals more accidents, that’s simple math for you, but it isn’t always the most accurate direct measure and with vehicles being safer than ever before the fact remains that we should see a decrease in the percentages, not an increase, yet the numbers don’t lie.
This trend in an increase in fatalities started at the end of 2014 in which year there were 1.1 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven. For 2015 that number was up to 1.2 and now we have 1.3 fatalities for every 100 million miles driven which equates to a total of 40,000 fatalities for 2016. This would be the first time in a decade that vehicle fatalities would reach that number which is an extremely alarming statistic. While vehicles are safer is there a problem with the fact that we seem to be driving more distracted than ever before?
Distracted driving has certainly gone up as well with more cell phones in use and parents allowing kids to have cell phones earlier in their lives. Even with connected technologies such as Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay this seems to be a serious problem. Think about it this way, not only have 19,000 people already lost their lives this year in vehicle accidents, there are nearly 2.2 million people who have been seriously injured in accidents as well. The cost of these deaths and injuries has already reached over $205 billion in payouts from insurance companies.
It’s not worth it to drive with distractions. You’re the driver, not your car, make sure you’re alert, in control and not distracted when you’re on the road.
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