The 2016 statistics for fatal car wrecks show that more than 40,000 people died. Here’s what’s happening out on the road to cause all these deadly accidents.
Fatal car wrecks continue to be a major problem in the U.S., and according to Fox News, an estimated 40,000 people died in car accidents in 2016, a six percent increase from 2015, and a 14 percent increase from 2014.
If these numbers hold, it would mean that 2016 was the deadliest in the U.S. since 2007. (1)
What makes theses figures even more concerning is that fatal car accidents increased 7.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, which was the highest percentage increase since 1966. And it is estimated that the total number of vehicle miles driven is also set to increase, pointing to one of the major causes of fatal accidents in the U.S.
These numbers should grab the attention of all drivers, because without understanding the major contributing factors in these accidents, it will be impossible to implement strategies to lower car accident fatalities.
Fatal Car Accident Causes
The challenge of improving fatal accident rates was highlighted by a recent survey taken by the National Safety Council (NSC), which found that: (2)
- 83 percent of drivers believed driving presented safety issues
- 64 percent said they were comfortable driving above the speed limit
- 47 percent said they were comfortable texting manually or through voice activation
- 13 percent said they drove after smoking marijuana
- 10 percent said they drove after consuming too much alcohol
These attitudes make it difficult for motorists to change their dangerous behavior, even after learning that these behaviors are part of the fatal car accident causes that continue to make auto safety such a challenge.
“I think most drivers understand how some of their activities may contribute to car wrecks,” stated Amy Witherite, partner at the personal injury law firm of Eberstein Witherite, LLP. “But knowing how something elevates a risk does not mean that drivers will necessarily change long-standing behavior.”
In fact, the biggest fatal car accident causes of 2016 were very similar to the contributing factors that caused a majority of fatal car wrecks in 2015, including:
- Speeding – more than a dozen states have increased speed limits on interstate highways during the past three years, contributing to the natural tendency of many drivers to exceed speed limits by five to 10 miles per hour.
- Driver Distraction – this includes behavior such as texting while driving, using electronic devices such as a tablet while driving, eating, chatting with other passengers, applying makeup, and reaching for fallen objects on the floor.
- Alcohol and Drug Impairment – significantly compromises reaction time, focus, concentration and a driver’s ability to make sound decisions.
- Drowsy Driving – this can be caused by exhaustion, or by drivers who take prescription pills. Drowsy driving robs motorists of focus and reaction time and it can also cause a person’s eyes to close, which can have devastating consequences.
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Also a Factor In Fatal Car Wrecks
In addition to these main causes, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified vehicles miles traveled (VMT) as another contributor.
VMT is calculated as the total annual vehicles miles traveled, divided by the total population in a state or in a country, and is expressed per 100 million miles traveled. (3)
A robust economy has lead to the creation of thousands of more trucking jobs, which has directly increased VMT figures. And has also created more discretionary income, spurring millions more Americans to take road-trip vacations, which also impacts VMT.
The more cars and trucks that are on the road, the greater the likelihood of more accidents, which is evidenced by the fact that VMT has increased steadily over the past few years.
What To Do After A Car Accident
While fatal car wrecks continue to rise, there are still thousands of accidents in which survivors must grapple with their change in circumstances.
There is no easy answer about what to do after a car accident, but one of the most important first steps is to talk to a reputable personal injury law firm, such as the team at 1-800-CAR-WRECK.
“I have been in car accidents before,” stated Amy Witherite, “So, I can put myself in the shoes of my clients who have suffered injuries in these wrecks. And I know from my own experience, that I needed someone else to handle the little and big things for me, because my life came to a complete stop. That’s why our team is so focused on keeping your life running after a wreck.”
Eberstein Witherite, LLP
Email: [email protected]