In 2015, many more people died in motor vehicle collisions as compared with the number of fatalities over the course of 2014. The majority of locations throughout the United States experienced a rise in car accident deaths, with just 13 states seeing fewer fatalities in 2015 compared with the prior year.
Most safety experts believe economic conditions were the biggest reason for the change in death rates. Since economic trends are continuing from 2015 to 2016 which exacerbate accident risks, drivers in Washington D.C. this year may face an even greater risk of death on the roads.
Car Crash Rising Death Rate is Cause for Concern
The increase in the number of fatalities from 2014 to 2015 was significant. The year-to-year rise in the number of deaths which occurred form 2014 in 2015 was the most dramatic jump in the number of people killed in 50 years. There were 38,300 deaths in motor vehicle collisions in 2015, while there were only 35,236 fatalities nationwide in car accidents in the United States just one year prior. In total, eight percent more people died in car wrecks over the course of 2015.
The dramatic and rapid increase in fatal car accidents was largely driven by the fact gas prices have fallen and the economy has improved. More people working and lower unemployment rates not only mean more commuting to jobs but also more individuals with cash in their pockets to spend. Not only that, but money goes further for drivers since the price of gas fell 28 percent in 2015 compared with 2014.
The decline in gas prices is one of the single most important reasons why there were more crashes, and gas prices are expected to continue falling in 2016. Lower gas costs made it possible for the total number of miles driven throughout the United States to increase by 3.5 percent in 2015 compared with in 2014. As more people drive, and as people are able to drive for longer distances due to the declining cost of gas, the roads become more crowded. This, in turn, can contribute to a rise in collision rates occurring.
According to The Hill, the former National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman and the current president of the National Resource Council warned motorists "driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake." She indicated the higher crash rates should serve "notice" to Americans who tend to take the safety of their driving experience for granted. Drivers shouldn't become complacent as they need to be proactive at all times when behind the wheel in ensuring they avoid high-risk behaviors which could cause crashes.
If drivers take the news of higher death rates as a wakeup call, motorists can make changes to their driving behavior so better economic conditions do not always result in higher crash rates. Every motorist should make a commitment to safety so hopefully 2016 will not be another dangerous year on the roads.