The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 40,000 people lost their lives to crashes — accounting for only a one percent decrease in fatalities from 2017. We all know that traffic fatalities across the United States are high, but in the grand scheme of things, just how high are traffic fatalities in the US?
An article in the Washington Post reveals something rather disturbing. National figures show that since the year 2000, there have been more than 624,000 fatalities in US roads. This number exceeds the estimated 535,000 American military personnel who died in both world wars. More than 30 million people sustained injuries in crashes during that same time period.
While we don't know for sure if these figures are accurate, this should be a stark wake-up call to drivers. Our driving culture needs to change.
Distracted driving has become an emerging factor in fatal crashes
Risky habits have become so integrated into the daily lives of many drivers that they become second nature.
“Unfortunately, our public option research has repeatedly shown that people still believe it will happen to someone else, but not to them,” said Maureen Vogel of the NSC.
Distracted driving, for example, often involves multitasking and the urge to hold or use electronic devices behind the wheel. Even something as minor as quickly checking a notification on a cellphone can lead to a major crash in the blink of an eye.
Researchers from the American Automobile Association (AAA) assert drivers who talk on cellphones behind the wheel are four times more likely to cause a crash than those who don't. In addition, drivers who text behind the wheel are eight times more likely to cause a crash.
Unfortunately, many drivers fail to recognize the risks of distracted driving, until it's too late. Federal statistics show that distracted driving resulted in nearly 78,000 fatalities from 2000-2017. What's even more shocking, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that around 481,000 drivers use handheld device behind the wheel during daylight hours. That means at any given time, a driver within your vicinity could be distracted by a cellphone.
Other leading factors in fatal crashes
Despite a decline in fatalities caused by drunk driving, it's still the culprit behind nearly 213,000 fatalities between 2000-2017. Even drivers who are within the legal blood alcohol content level of below 0.08 can put others at risk. For example, judgment and visual functioning can be affected at a BAC level as low as 0.02.
Speeding is another common risk factor in fatal crashes, resulting in more than 197,000 deaths from 2000-2017. According to the NHTSA, approximately 9,717 people died in the US due to crashes involving speeding. Those who exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for the given conditions often have less control of their cars, reduced time and distance to stop, reduced effectiveness of seatbelts and airbags, and increased risk of causing a fatal crash.
Drowsy driving has always been a factor in fatal crashes, but wasn't placed into a designated category until 2005. Since then, more than 10,000 people were killed in crashes. Since drowsy driving doesn't always leave behind any clues or physical evidence, the real number could be much higher.
What to do if you've been in a car accident
Crashes caused by these factors all have one thing in common: they are preventable. Drivers have a duty that they must always uphold. There are no excuses or exceptions. When they fail to do so, and it results in someone being seriously hurt or killed, they should be held accountable.
That's where Mike Slocumb Law Firm comes in. We have a proven track record of helping injured motorists recover economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. We know how to take on the insurance companies and get results.
We have law offices located in Alabama, Baltimore, the District of Columbia, Denver, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Contact us online today to find out what we can do for you.