In last week's post, this blog discussed alarming statistics, which showed that fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents rose substantially between 2014 and 2015. During the same period, fatal car accidents also increased. The big question is why are more and more people losing their lives on roadways in California, and in many other parts of the country?
According to preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in 2015. That number, which includes all types of fatal accidents on the roadways, represented a 7.7 percent increase from the year before. With regard to auto accidents, the NHTSA shows that fatalities jumped six percent for drivers, and seven percent for passengers.
The numbers did show some disparities among different regions of the country. For example, the region that includes California saw a six percent spike in the total number of fatal accidents, while the northwest region including Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho, had a 20 percent jump in traffic fatalities.
As to the reason why so many more people lost their lives on the roadways in 2015, as compared to 2014, experts don't seem to have concrete answers. One NHTSA administrator explained that falling gas prices has meant more people getting on the roads and driving more miles, which equates to more accidents. He also noted that 94 percent of accidents are caused by some kind of human error, and thus driver behavior must change.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that the Department of Transportation is still sifting through the data to try to figure out exactly what factors caused the increased number of fatal traffic accidents. One thing is clear, however, and that is that driver negligence contributed to far too many accidents.
Families of fatal car accident victims in Orange County understand how tragic an event like this is for the loved ones of the victim. All drivers must take safety into their own hands and consider how potentially negligent actions, like texting and driving, can impact driving safety.
Source: NHTSA.gov, "NHTSA data shows traffic deaths up 7.7 percent in 2015," Karen Aldana, Accessed on July 15, 2016