Why Are America’s Highways So Much More Dangerous?

highway accident

We are killing each other on the country’s roads more and more each day. Despite all the warnings we get, all the advice we’re given it seems we just can’t cause enough carnage. Recent statistics show that the number of fatalities occurring on America’s roadways is sharply increasing.

Last year, deaths on U.S. roads totaled 35,092, an increase of 7.2% from 2014, reports CNN Money. This is the biggest increase since 1966. The National Safety Council (NSC) has estimated that fatalities went up 9% the first six months of this year.

In New Jersey, traffic fatalities increased slightly from 556 to 562 from 2014 to 2015, but that’s twenty more than the number of those who lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Who or what’s to blame? It could be a number of things, or a combination of them all. Drivers are distracted by smartphones and other technology, but there may also simply be more people on the road due to several factors:

  • Less expensive gas
  • An improved economy, resulting in more people driving to work, going on vacation and commercial trucks transporting goods
  • Milder weather.

The rising accident statistics are seen nationwide. There was a 34% increase in traffic deaths in Georgia, with more single-vehicle crashes, lane departures, over-corrections and striking fixed objects, which are signs of distracted drivers not paying attention to the road, according to the NSC.

Highway safety officials in Illinois, a state with one of the highest increases (from 924 deaths in 2014 to 998 in 2015), say a milder winter increased the death toll on their roads.  The 2015-2016 winter was the warmest on record so there were more pedestrians out as well as those using bicycles and motorcycles.  Bad weather can create conditions causing fatal accidents statistically; however, it also saves lives because more people stay off the roads.  For example, in 2015, traffic fatalities were at their lowest in February, when 2,380 people were killed, and increased in August when 3,680 people died, according to the NSC.

Smartphone use while driving is one of the riskiest behaviors people can engage in and, despite public service campaigns and frequent media coverage, it’s not going away.

  • It’s especially a problem for young drivers. Motor vehicle accidents are the top cause of death of Americans aged 10 to 24, or 23% of deaths in that age group, reports the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • The agency surveyed younger drivers and found that 42% of students who had driven a car or vehicle in the 30 days prior to the survey reported texting or emailing while driving. That percentage is unchanged from 2013.
  • More than eight people are killed and more than 1,100 are injured in vehicle accidents reportedly related to distracted driving every day according to the CDC.

If a loved one has been killed in a car accident in New Jersey, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Statutes of limitations apply, so contact us as soon as possible so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your interests.

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