Even with more drivers on the roads than ever before, it is still safer to travel by car, truck, van, or SUV than in the past. This is true even despite the rapid increase in the average size of the American automobile, which is 4,009 pounds and larger than any other time in history, according to Slate. The larger a vehicle, the more threat it poses to every other vehicle and vulnerable road user out on the road. But how is it possible that driving is safer now than before despite the size of vehicles, their growing numbers on the road, and the rise of technology distractions such as cell phones and GPS devices?
History of Fatal Accidents
Before looking at why driving is safer today than it was 30 years ago, it is important to know what the situation used to be like. In 1964, just over 45,000 people died in traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Compared to 2013, when only 32,719 died, it appears that we have come a long way. Furthermore, not only are the total numbers down, but the percentage of fatalities per capita are down too. It goes the same way with severe injuries. In 1989 there were 157 serious injuries per 100 million miles. In 2013 there were just 87 serious injuries per million miles driven.
How Driving Became Safer
There were four important steps taken that led to safer automotive travel. Technology led to one of the greatest increases in safety, such as crumple zones and seat belts. Social behavioral changes were necessary to make cars safer as well. These changes included wearing seat belts and more strict obedience to traffic laws. Better road design, such as banked curves, and better road surfaces also contributed to safer travel, as well as more traffic infrastructure, signs, and lights. Finally, police enforcement increased, which has led to more drivers obeying traffic laws
2015’s Rise in Traffic Fatalities
Much of the progress made in the last four decades was wiped away last year in 2015, when traffic fatalities took a large upswing, according to CNN. The first six months of the year had 14 percent more fatalities than the first six months of 2014, and the final number of fatalities was expected to be over 40,000 in 2015. The estimated monetary cost was projected at $152 billion. Two key contributors to this rapid increase in traffic collisions have been the low cost of gas, which was down 30 percent from 2014, and a growing economy, meaning more people were on the roads commuting to work last year than the year before. The third, and possibly largest, contributor to these deaths was the increasing numbers of distracted drivers. Drivers are more distracted now than ever before thanks to cell phones and other electronic devices. National Safety Council president Deborah Hersman says, “Americans are addicted to these devices.” It may be true, considering the fact that cell phones were found to be involved in 40 percent of all traffic collisions, according to Automotive Fleet, and cell phones were the direct cause of at least 26 percent of at least 26 percent of all collisions, according to the National Safety Council. If you were injured by a negligent driver, contact the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers of Cleveland, Ohio today as soon as possible to discuss the matter with one of our experienced car accident attorneys.