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Steven M. Lee, PC

Last Year’s Lull Makes 2015’s Traffic Fatality Rate Seem Even Deadlier

3,212 DEATHS THIS YEAR ON TEXAS ROADS…AND COUNTING

Statistics show a sharp rise in fatal traffic accidentsHow many times have you been peacefully driving along and then looked up to see this horrifying message displayed on a roadside billboard? Although we all know that driving can come with certain risks, seeing the number of actual deaths caused by traffic accidents is definitely a shock to the system. Unfortunately, these numbers are only a fraction of the overall traffic fatalities that occur each year throughout the nation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks data and trends of yearly traffic accident deaths across the United States using the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS). As of 2013, FARS had recorded a sad yet steady increase of fatalities from year to year. However, a short lived glimmer of hope arose as the 2014 data rolled in.

A Year’s Worth of Death…and Predictions for the Next

At the beginning of the year, the NHTSA gathers information from the previous year’s FARS reports and publishes the findings—which are usually disheartening. However, 2014’s data actually showed a record decrease in deaths, while maintaining similar accident causes.

The Good News

According to the 2014 report:

  • Fatal traffic accidents accounted for 32,675 deaths—a 0.1% decrease from the previous year.
  • The overall fatality rate fell to a record-low of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled—the lowest since FARS began collecting data in 1975.

The Bad News

  • Drunk driving crashes resulted in 9,967 deaths—33% of all traffic fatalities
  • Nearly half of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.
  • States without strong helmet laws saw far more motorcycle deaths than those requiring helmets be used—resulting in 1,565 lives lost in 2014.
  • Fatigue and distracted driving accounted for 12.6% of overall crash fatalities, killing at least 4,125 people

Although work obviously still needed to be done to improve roadside safety, the NHTSA had a moment of hope that the fatality trend may finally be on the decline. Unfortunately, that moment was short-lived as estimations for the 2015 report were made.

Since a year’s complete data can’t be formulated until the year is over, the NHTSA makes predictions based on the first half of the year. 2015’s predictions showed the following:

  • An 8.1% increase in fatalities from the same period in 2014.
  • A 4.4% overall increase in projected fatality rates.

The Road to Improvement

As a preemptive attack, the NHTSA has begun an aggressive campaign on roadside safety. In addition to the “Click it or Ticket” and the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaigns, the agency announced that it will hold a series of regional meetings across the country early in 2016, with the express intent to address and gather preventative ideas for common traffic dangers such as:

  • Drunk and drugged driving
  • Distracted and drowsy driving
  • Speeding
  • Failure to use safety features (seat belts, turn signals, child seats, etc.)
  • Lack of attention toward cyclists and pedestrians

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind made a statement addressing these increased concerns,  saying, “It is time as a nation to reinvigorate the fight against drunk and drugged driving, distraction and other risks that kill thousands every year, and time for State and local governments to reassess whether they are making the right policy choices to improve highway safety.”

In the meantime, make sure your family and loved ones know their risks and actively use caution behind the wheel. If you think it may help to get your point across, share this article via Facebook, Twitter, or private message to allow them the opportunity to see what’s at stake.


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