The United States could be looking at its deadliest year for traffic fatalities in nearly a decade. The National Safety Council (NSC) released preliminary estimates for the first half of the year, and the death toll for traffic accidents is already at 19,100.
High National Death Toll is Cause for Concern
With the current estimates already over 19,000, officials at the NSC predict our yearly total will exceed 40,000 for the first time in nine years. When compared to previous years, 2016’s January-June fatality rate is nine percent higher than the same period in 2015 and 14 percent higher than the same period in 2014.
Pennsylvania is among 41 states whose six-month fatality rate has increased when compared to last year. Here is how our numbers compare for the first half of the past three years:
- 2014: 518 fatalities
- 2015: 552 fatalities
- 2016: 569 fatalities
Overall, Pennsylvania saw a three percent increase in fatalities compared to the first half of 2015, and a 10 percent increase from 2014’s totals.
In addition to these fatalities, the NSC estimates these traffic accidents caused 2.2 million serious injuries during the first half of the year.
Between the injuries, deaths, and property damage, the NSC estimates the total cost of traffic accidents has already reached $205 billion.
Why Experts Say Traffic Fatalities Are Increasing
There is no single answer to why traffic fatalities have been on the rise. Many experts point out that it is counter-intuitive, considering the improvements to our traffic safety programs and vehicle safety features. However, others disagree, saying these safety features may make drivers more complacent and less reactive to hazards.
The economy and gas prices play another role in traffic fatality increases. Gas price averages across the U.S. were 16 percent lower than 2015’s costs, encouraging more drivers to travel. As our economy recovers and more Americans return to work, the number of commuters on the road has increased as well. These factors contributed to a 3.3 percent increase in the average number of miles driven.
Staying Safe While Driving, Biking, or Walking
Everyone who uses our roads needs to be mindful of others and exercise extreme caution. Road users should never commit the following while traveling on or near a road:
- Traveling without a light or reflection device at night
- Traveling while intoxicated or impaired
- Traveling while fatigued
- Traveling while using a cell phone, even hands-free
- Traveling while listening to music so loud that you cannot hear nearby hazards
Staying alert and being courteous to other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians are just two of the many ways we can reduce the number of traffic fatalities on Pennsylvania’s roads. For more road safety tips, visit our blog and article library.
Unfortunately, accidents still happen. Cordisco & Saile LLC is dedicated to helping accident victims recover the damages to which they are entitled.