Data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been released regarding total auto accident fatalities in 2015. NHTSA compares data over the years in order to see trends in road safety. While fatality rates had been going down, this trend is reversed in 2015 and there was a significant increase in the number of people who were killed as a result of car accidents. The rise in car accident deaths led to the NHTSA warning: "the estimated increase represents a troubling departure from a general downward trend."
How Can Wichita Drivers Help to Reduce Collisions Next Year?
NHTSA has hopes the bad news on car accidents to spur motorists to change. The agency encourages drivers to take the rise in car crash deaths as a "call to action," to do better. Improvements in road safety can be achieved if motorists stop engaging in high risk behaviors and start following best practices for safety. Some of the things drivers should do include:
- Understanding risk factors for crashes. For example, drunk driving still remains a stubbornly-high cause of fatalities, with around 1/3 of deadly crashes involving a drunk driver. Distracted driving has been increasing each year, and drivers who are distracted account for around 10 percent of motorists involved in fatal crashes. Drivers need to realize how high-risk these behaviors are.
- Following their own advice on driver safety. Most drivers say it is dangerous to speed, to text, to email, or to use cell phones while driving- but most motorists turn around and do these things anyway. Drivers need to make sure they are following their own beliefs about what is too high-risk to do as they drive.
- Driving defensively and not counting on other motorists. If a driver breaks a traffic rule, like not stopping at a red light, the motorist is at fault and is required to provide compensation for losses. Still, even if you aren't to blame for a crash, you should try to prevent it whenever possible. Watch what other motorists are doing, especially at intersections, and adjust for their behavior even if they break traffic laws.
- Monitor teen drivers carefully. Parents should make sure their kids get practice driving in all weather conditions and should make sure teens don't drink or drive distracted. Limiting the number of passengers in cars with teen drivers can also help bring down crash rates.
In 2014, there were 32,675 people who died in car crashes, which was .1 percent fewer than the number who died in the prior year. The fatality rate, which is measured as deaths per 100 million miles, was 1.07. In contrast, in 2015, there was an 8.1 percent increase in total deaths and there was a 4.4 percent increase in the fatality rate. This should not happen again next year, as such a significant rise in fatality rates means thousands more people losing their lives. If every driver commits to following these basic best practices for safety, there should be fewer deaths on the road and 2016 can again be a year when death rates decline instead of rise.