2016 was a deadly year on America's roads.
The National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety watchdog organization, recently released preliminary data showing that fatal car crashes increased six percent between 2015 and 2016. The NSC reports that 40,200 people were killed nationwide in car and truck accidents in 2016, up from 37,757 in 2015. North Carolina saw a more modest increase in the number of deadly collisions, with a three percent rise (1,435 people tragically lost their lives in 2016, compared with 1,396 the year before).
Furthermore, the NSC reports that an estimated 4.6 million people were injured in car crashes in 2016, a rise of seven percent from 2015. Car accidents cost the American economy approximately $432 billion in medical expenses, property damage, lost wages and administrative costs last year alone.
Causes for the uptick
The NSC data shows that the number of highway miles driven increased three percent in 2016, due in no small part to lower gas prices and a recovering economy, but the increased mileage alone cannot account for the uptick in fatalities. NSC President and CEO Deborah Hersman instead blames high-profile bad driving behaviors. These include:
- Texting (47 percent of drivers surveyed admitted texting while driving, in spite of knowing how potentially dangerous the practice can be)
- Speeding (64 percent of drivers regularly break the speed limit)
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (nearly a quarter - 23 percent - of drivers admitted that they'd gotten behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana)
Putting a stop to the crashes
The NSC's report, while disturbing, doesn't just offer these numbers in a vacuum with no hope of turning things around. The NSC has offered several possible ways to help lower the number of crashes and the severity of injuries as part of its "Road to Zero" safety initiative:
- Requiring a universal three-tier, graduated licensing program for drivers under the age of 21
- Mandating ignition interlock systems for all convicted drunk drivers
- Banning all cellphone - handheld and hands-free alike - use behind the wheel, including talking and texting
- Making all seatbelt use violations a primary traffic violation in every jurisdiction (meaning that someone can be pulled over simply because anyone in the car isn't properly restrained, instead of having to wait for a second offense like speeding or changing lanes without signaling)
- Enforcing motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws in every jurisdiction
- Requiring car manufacturers to include potentially life-saving and crash-preventing technologies like lane deviation warnings, blind spot warnings and emergency braking systems as standard equipment in every new vehicle
- Encouraging law enforcement agencies to install red light and speeding cameras to catch reckless drivers
Even when you personally don't engage in risky driving behaviors, you are still at the mercy of other negligent people on the road, and you could still be seriously injured in a crash. When you've been hurt, you need to focus all your energy on healing your body and getting your life back. The legal aspects, which are themselves very important and deserve a great deal of attention, should be handled by someone with experience and skill, someone like the personal injury lawyers of Maynard and Harris, Attorneys at Law, PLLC. Call their Winston-Salem law office today at 336-793-1758 or 866-912-8731, or send an email to schedule your free initial consultation.