Over the last few decades, the number of automobile accident fatalities has been on a downward trend. Many attributed the enhancements in technology and increased safety education to be a reason for lowering numbers of traffic injuries and deaths. For instance, the crashworthiness of vehicles has improved drastically year after year – so even when an auto accident occurs, the likelihood of injury is lower because of advanced safety features. Anti-lock braking, self-driving capabilities, stability controls, and lane changing alerts are standard in many vehicles on Marietta roadways today. This wasn’t the case in the 70s. The education and promotion of safer driver habits, as well as laws being tougher on seatbelts, driving while impaired, and teen drivers all aided in the lowering number of injuries and fatalities as compared to the early 70s.
Unfortunately, those downward trending numbers jumped in 2015. The number of lives lost in auto accidents climbed 7.2% from 2014 – the highest increase in more than 50 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the numbers for 2016 may be just as bad, if not worse, projecting an increase of 8%.
So why the sudden upward surge in the number of injuries and deaths related to traffic accidents?
The reasoning for this sudden increase in injury numbers can only be speculated. But experts believe the cause may center on more miles traveled by drivers. Things like cheaper gas and an improved economy may have led to drivers feeling more at-ease with driving more often. Road trips and lengthened commutes, along with lower employment, means a higher number of automobiles on U.S. roadways. So when vehicle numbers increase, accidents tend to do so as well. Distracted driving has become a near-epidemic level issue in recent years, especially with the development of mobile technology, which contributes to the number of auto accidents, injuries, and deaths as well.
Fortunately, there are governing bodies attempting to eliminate traffic fatalities over the next 30 years. A new safety campaign, the “Road to Zero” was launched in October by the NHTSA, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration with the purpose of eliminating the number of deaths long-term.