Traffic fatalities happen every day in the United States, although most drivers do not think about it. However, the recent number of fatalities in the nation has increased – and is definitely cause for concern. According to recent data released by the nonprofit National Safety Council (NSC), 2015 could be the deadliest year for drivers since 2007.
What the Numbers Say
According to the data compiled by the NSC, there were more than 18,600 auto accident-related fatalities from January to June 2015, while in 2014, there were only 16,400 traffic deaths during the same time period.
The NSC estimates the costs of these deaths to also be on the rise. They suspect that property damage and injury costs have totaled around $152 billion so far this year – which is a 24 percent increase since 2014. The costs also include productivity losses, medical expenses, lost wages, administrative expenses, cost to the employers, and property damage.
The NSC feels that part of the reason for this increase is that people are driving more in 2015 because of lowered gas prices. In fact, on average, the gas prices are 30 percent lower than they were in 2014. There are also more drivers on the road heading to work as the United States economy continues to improve and the number of jobs increases.
Distracted Driving is to Blame Too
Unfortunately, there is also another reason for the increase in traffic fatalities for 2015: distracted driving. The rise in deaths, according to the NSC, can be explained in part by the increase in distractions drivers are dealing with while on the road. More drivers are using their cell phones while operating a vehicle, regardless of whether or not it is against the law in their state. The NSC goes so far as to state that Americans are “addicted” to their devices and unwilling to put them down even if it is for their own safety.
Distracted driving is not just using a cell phone, although that is the most common type. Any time a driver takes their eyes or mental abilities away from the road they are engaging in distracted driving behavior. Other things that can distract a driver include:
- Adjusting the radio, navigation, or climate controls
- Speaking to passengers in the car
- Eating or drinking
- Looking at events happening outside of the vehicle
- Talking with a hands-free device