Traffic Accidents: The Disturbing 2016 Statistics from the NHTSA

BY MARC MOSS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released their findings for 2016, and the report shows that 37,461 people were killed in car crashes in the United States. This is a 5.6%  increase from 2015’s 35,485. For sure, many more are injured in these accidents.

The numbers are grim, but what’s more disturbing are the documented causes of recorded accidents. A staggering 35,289 of the deaths reported were found to be due to accidents that are causally related to lapses in human judgment. Discussed in the subsections below are three of the most common judgment-related accident causes…

Driving while intoxicated

About 10,497 of the fatalities reported in 2016 are those who died in accidents caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. It is important to note here that when compared to data from 2015, large truck drivers were shown to have the greatest increase (50.9%) in recorded instances of fatal drunk driving.

Data on them is quite difficult to find, but large truck drivers who survived the mishaps are likely not free from liability in a commercial truck accident. The survivors can very well sue them for damages. Even the trucking companies that the drivers work for can be held liable if it’s proven that the management still allowed the driver to take control of the vehicle even with the knowledge that he or she was intoxicated at that time.

Driving or riding the vehicle unrestrained

A staggering 10,428 of the people who died in auto accidents did not travel with the seat belts fastened. With this, it appears that many people still need to understand and appreciate the importance of this safety feature. The NHTSA probed deeper and they found that when accidents happened, those who are wearing seat belts had overwhelmingly better chances of survival than those who don’t. Specifically, 31,533 seat-belt-wearers (SBW) were able to survive while only 5,154 of non-SBWs did.

However, while seat belts protect passengers and drivers from fatal injuries, authorities must still inform the public that wearing a seat belt does not necessarily protect them from getting involved in accidents. A restrained driver who speeds is no less likely to get involved in an accident than a speeding unrestrained driver.

Speeding on the road

Many of those who died in auto accidents in 2016 (10,111 of them to be exact), were involved in mishaps that have something to do with speeding drivers. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that just 1 mph increase in average speed already leads to 3-5 percent increase in accident risk.  

Reasons for the speeding behavior abound. It could be that the drivers were under the influence of alcohol. The behavior can also be brought about by the anonymity the driver enjoys while in the car. It has been established that anonymity often leads to antisocial behaviors in general. Because of this, not allowing too much tint on vehicles can be a good measure to address the problem of speeding.