Who would have thought that an increase in the quality of our economy could potentially lead to more traffic accidents? Advocates for vehicular safety have actually made ties to the stimulated economy and the recent influx of wrecks on the road.
The National Safety Council has estimated that 40,200 people have lost their lives to motor vehicle accidents in just 2016, which is a six percent increase from the previous year. This would make 2016 the first year since 2007 that over 40,000 people have been killed by vehicular accidents in just a singular year.
With more jobs opening up, more Americans are driving on the roads than have in quite some time, and thus more accidents are taking place. But since the percentage of miles driven versus the percentage of death from such accidents has increased as well, the economy is believed to only be partially responsible.
What's causing the increase of fatal crashes?
In the not so distant past, it was advised that we abstain from talking on the phone while driving, and then it evolved into texting while driving. However, more recently, it is becoming increasingly common for drivers to be distracted by a plethora of electronic devices, including smartphones and their many apps that beckon the driver's attention through constant updates and messages, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Maps, etc. And let's face it, most of us have hard time simply turning them off, or at the very least, ignoring them.
New vehicles are even starting to offer voice controls and screens on the dashboard that can display all sorts of information, which can be a good thing if you've pulled over to check for directions or have a passenger making use of them, but it can be a very bad thing if the driver is distracted by all of the data or entertainment that can be displayed on these screens.
Physical and digital distractions aside, officials and advocates of vehicular safety have asserted that the greatest threat to the lives of drivers is actually much more basic. Enforcement of seat belt laws has become more lax, as well as the enforcement of speeding laws and drunken driving, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been put towards awareness campaigns. Surprisingly, of the 52 states, 34 states don't have laws that categorize un-seat belted rear passengers as a primary offense, and only 15 states categorize front seats as a primary offense.
The increase in fatal crashes is troubling. Safety advocacy groups are hoping to raise awareness to the dangers on the road to prevent fatal accidents in the future. What can you do to stay safe? Below are some tips all drivers should consider:
- Put your phone away or turn it off
- Pre-set your music or heat settings
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving
- Avoid reaching for things in your vehicle
- Keep your vision on the road while talking to passengers