The cost of traffic injuries and deaths is at its highest level since 2007 and doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
The statistics released by the National Safety Council in July 2015 show an alarming increase of 30 percent over the first six months of 2014.
Present indicators are that 2015 is destined to be the deadliest year for traffic deaths since 2007. These figures come from the National Safety Council (NSC), which reported almost 19,000 traffic-related deaths between January and June; an increase of 14 percent since the same period last year. In addition, there has been a significant increase in the overall costs associated with traffic accidents.
According to the NSC, there were nearly 2.3 million serious injuries during the first six months of 2015 – an increase of 30 percent over the same period in 2014. The costs associated with those crashes also increased by 24 percent. These costs include medical care, losses in wages and productivity, and damage to property. This increase represents a dollar amount of $152 billion.
Causes of the increase.
Sadly, only 14 states plus Washington, D.C. showed a decrease in the number of traffic deaths during the first half of the year when it was compared to the first half of last year.
The substantial increase in deaths that occurred during this recent period followed a decrease in the same six month period during the previous two years. The NSC believes a few of the reasons for the increase may be:
- Decrease in the price of gasoline
- Increase in the total number of miles traveled
- Improvement in economic conditions
The strongest correlation seems to be between traffic fatalities and the economy. In other words, the better the economy, the more fatalities there seems to be. Between 2008 and 2014 the number of wrongful deaths from traffic accidents remained fewer than 40,000, but projections are that the total for 2015 will cross the 40,000 mark for the first time since the start of the most recent recession.
The first half of the year showed an increase in vehicular deaths to 12.5 per 100,000 in the population (compared to 11.1 per 100,000 in 2014). Statistics also show an increase in the number of deaths per 100 million miles driven: 1.2 to 1.3 for an increase of eight percent. Other contributing factors (besides the economy) include speeding, drunk driving accidents, and driver distractions such as texting while driving.
AT&T released the results of a survey in May that showed approximately 70 percent of those who responded admitted to Smartphone use while driving. While a staggering 61 percent admitted to reading, sending, or replying to texts while behind the wheel, others also reported the following activities while driving:
- Use of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram
- Conducting video chats
- Shooting videos
- Snapping selfies
According to the NSC, a driver increases his or her likelihood of becoming involved in a crash by eight times by making the choice to text and drive. In addition, crashes in which the driver is either texting or talking on a cellphone while driving account for a total of 27 percent of all car crashes (this includes both hands free and handheld devices).
Let’s take this information into consideration next time you get behind the wheel. Don’t become another statistic!