When I wrote this article in the second week of April, there were already 122 fatalities from traffic crashes in Arkansas since January, 2017 and there have more since. That is just tragic and unacceptable. Nationally, there is a car crash with injury every eight seconds.
Data from the National Safety Council estimates that 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. That marks a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014 – the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years.
An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention, a 7% increase over 2015. This means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the roads since 2007. Estimated cost to society was $432 billion.
Unsafe driving behaviors causing car crashes
The National Safety Council (NSC) recently surveyed drivers to find out about their risky driving behaviors. Sixty-four percent said they were comfortable speeding, 47 percent said texting either manually or through voice controls was okay, 13% were fine with driving high on marijuana, and 10% felt they’d be okay to drive even if they had too much to drink.
NSC President and CEO Deborah Hersman said, “Our complacency is killing us. Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true. The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven’t done it.”
Life-saving measures needed
The NSC said that life-saving measures are needed and cite the following they believe would set the U.S. on a road to zero deaths:
- Mandate ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers and better education about the nature of impairment and when it begins;
- Install and use automated enforcement techniques to catch speeders.
- Extend laws banning all cell phone use, including hands-free, to all drivers, not just teens; upgrade enforcement from secondary to primary in states with existing bans;
- Upgrade seat belt laws from secondary to primary enforcement and extend restraint laws to every passenger in every seating position in all kinds of vehicles;
- Adopt a three-tiered licensing system for all new drivers under 21 – not just those under 18;
- Standardize and accelerate into the fleet automotive safety technologies with life-saving potential, including blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive headlights;
- Pass or reinstate motorcycle helmet laws;
- Adopt comprehensive programs for pedestrian safety.
In addition to changes at state and federal levels, we must be more vigilant in our driving behaviors and we must teach our children well.
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Attribution: Chris Yarzab@flickr.com/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
Source: National Safety Council