Why are car accident risks rising nationwide? This is an important question to answer, as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) releases preliminary data for 2015 crashes showing a troubling increase in people killed in collisions. Wall Street Journal proposes some answers for motorists to consider, including a rise in miles driven nationwide.
More Motorists Means More Potential for Crashes
When people drive more, there are obviously more individuals out on the road at any given time. A higher number of people engaging in the activity of driving naturally translates to a higher number of car accidents, and thus an increase in accident deaths.
From 2014 to 2015, the accident death risk jumped significantly. In 2014, 32,675 people died in car accidents. In 2015, 8.1 percent more people died in motor vehicle collisions. Also in 2014, fatality rates were 1.07. The fatality rate is calculated by measuring deaths per 100 million miles driven. The fatality rate was 4.4 percent higher in 2015.
There were many more miles driven in 2015 than in 2014, which could be a reason for the higher number of deaths and the higher fatality rate. Wall Street Journal reports a 3.5 percent increase in miles driven in the first six months of 2015 compared with miles driven in the first six months of 2014.
The number of miles driven in January to June of 2016 reached a record high of 1.54 trillion miles in 2015. Lower unemployment (rates fell to 5.1 percent in early 2015) and gas prices at levels lower than any time since 2010 all give drivers incentive and opportunity to drive more. People who work have more money to take road trips or go out, and they also drive to work each day- all contributing to more people in cars.
Does this mean improving economic conditions must always lead to a higher risk of a car accident? Not necessarily. Drivers can be smart about the decisions they make behind the wheel in order to help keep car accident death rates down. Drivers should:
- Plan for more traffic due to more motorists on the road. Leave a little early so you are not rushed to get to your destination and so you are not tempted to speed.
- Avoid assuming regarding the actions of other drivers. With more people out on the roads, you'll encounter more motorists as you drive places. Don't assume what their actions will be, even if there is a traffic control signal. If you can stop an accident which a driver running a red would have caused, everyone will be better off.
- Don't give into road rage. If you are in a high-traffic area, it is easy to get annoyed at other drivers and to begin dangerous behaviors like tailgating. Avoid these actions, as you could make your crash risks worse.
- Be watchful at all times for the actions of other drivers. Around 10 percent of crashes which cause death involve distracted drivers. More people on the roads means it is more important than ever to pay attention.
By following these basic guideline to help keep crash rates down, motorists may hopefully be able to make 2016 a year with fewer traffic crashes, rather than with more deadly accidents to endure.