After trending lower for over 10 years, crash fatalities rose in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. What gives?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver error is a leading cause of the rise in roadway fatalities - 94%. This research is based upon a weighted sample of 5,470 crashes over a period of roughly two years.
NHTSA crash data for 2014 shows:
- Crashes involving a drunk driver accounted for almost one-third of motor vehicle deaths in the United States
- Nearly half (49%) of those who died were not wearing seat belts
- Distracted driving accounted for approximately 10% of all crash fatalities
- Drowsy driving accounted for 2.6% of all crash fatalities
- The number of motorcyclists killed was much higher in states without strong helmet laws
- Cyclist deaths declined by 2.3%
- Pedestrian deaths rose by 3.1%
What Caused the Rise in Car Crash Fatalities from 2014 to 2015?
From about 2012 through 2014, crash deaths had been on a downward trend. But the NHTSA preliminary crash data from 2015 shows there were a lot more deadly crashes in the first six months of 2015 than there were during the same period in the year prior. Understanding why is important so changes can be made going forward.
Why the sudden uptick?
One possible explanation is that people were able to drive more due to improved economic conditions, like lower gas prices and lower unemployment.
However, the way the NHTSA measures fatality rates clarifies a potential misunderstanding in this viewpoint. It looks at how many people died per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. According to the NHTSA, this method helps illuminate whether the increase was because people drove more or because they weren't driving as safely.
During the first six months of 2015 there was an 8.1% increase in overall fatalities and a 4.4% increase in the rate per 100 million miles. This means that even after accounting for increased traffic, there were still more fatal collisions. Driver safety, therefore, played a significant role in the overall increased cause of deaths.
To determine how much North Carolina drivers contributed to the added risk, National Safety Council (NSC) data from the first six months of 2014 to the first six months 2015 in North Carolina were compared. Their data shows that 19% more people died on North Carolina's highways in 2015 as a result of driver error.
What's the Solution to Try to Reverse the Rise in Traffic Fatalities?
The NHTSA has launched a series of safety initiatives. These initiatives address such issues as the risks of driving while intoxicated, drowsy driving, using electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle, and failure to utilize readily available safety features like seat belts and car seats. Other initiatives are also being designed specifically to protect non-motorists who share the roads, such as pedestrians and cyclists.
As both local and federal government agencies continue to increase their focus on policy decisions that can potentially make our roads safer, each of us can also do our part to help ensure our own safety and those around us by committing to be more careful.
No drinking and driving. No distracted driving - no texting, no applying makeup on the freeway, no reaching in the back seat to pick up your toddler's sippy cup. You get the picture.
North Carolina Auto Accident Attorneys
If you are hurt by a distracted driver in North Carolina, contact us now for a free consultation to see if we can help. Call us at 1-866-900-7078. We're here for you 24/7/365.