The latest news is not looking good for motorists on America’s roads. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that fatalities and injuries on roads nationwide are on the rise. The totals for the first six months of 2016 easily topped the totals for the first half of both 2015 and 2014.
This news comes on the heels of reports from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) that road fatalities in the state increased almost 12 percent in 2015 over the previous year.
What do the preliminary statistics show?
According to the estimates released by the NSC, almost 2,000 more people died in car accidents in the U.S. in the first half of 2016 than during the same period last year. This estimate points toward a significant (eight percent) increase over the same period last year, and an astounding 18 percent increase over the first half of 2014. By the numbers, these estimates include:
- 2016: 19,100 deaths
- 2015: 17,530 deaths
- 2014: 16,251 deaths
In addition to the more than 19,000 fatalities, 2.2 million more accident victims suffered serious injuries between New Year’s and June 30 this year.
Serious injuries often lead to high medical costs, significant lost wages, and other expenses. Car accident deaths and injuries cost Americans more than $205 billion during the first half of this year.
Are there simply more cars on the road?
There is no doubt that people are driving more than they have in the last few years. When the economy was struggling and unemployment was high, many people avoided frivolous travel, and fewer people were commuting to work daily. Today, the economy is on the rebound. Gas prices are down and more people are traveling.
Average gas prices for the first half of this year were much lower than the same period last year. More people are back at work, and more are willing to spend money on leisure travel. Stores are ordering more stock, and trucking companies are moving more cargo.
The number of miles driven has risen by 3.3 percent over the same period last year, which surely accounts for some, but not all of the increase in accidents.
What else is causing these accidents?
According to the NSC, there are three major causes of these accidents. This includes:
Alcohol was a contributing factor to 30.8 percent of fatal car accidents nationwide, and 32 percent of wrecks within Colorado.
Meanwhile, speeding was a factor in three out of every ten fatal crashes in the U.S.
While distracted driving was a major contributor at 26 percent, many experts believe this number is actually much higher. Drivers rarely admit to texting, surfing the Web, or using apps at the time when a crash occurred, so many go uncounted.
In addition to these factors that cause crashes, Colorado officials also point to a lack of seatbelt use as a reason so many drivers and passengers suffer such severe injuries. In 2015, almost half of all fatalities in Colorado car accidents were not using a seatbelt, or were not using the seat belt as intended. According to a survey conducted by CDOT, about 15 percent of drivers in the state admit that they do not regularly wear their seatbelt.
How are Colorado officials reacting to this news?
Colorado officials are taking aim at the most common causes of fatal car accidents, hoping to pair prevention programs and community education with bolstered enforcement efforts to reduce the number of crashes in the state.
Some have even discussed strengthening Colorado’s seatbelt laws, making it an offense that warrants a traffic stop on its own. Currently, a seatbelt violation is a secondary offense, meaning police cannot cite you for it unless they have another reason to pull you over.
For 2016, CDOT gave out more than $3.5 million in grants for educational programs, including those that address drunk driving, drugged driving, seatbelt use and distracted driving. Community nonprofits, local police, and other state and municipal government agencies implement these programs, and track their effectiveness.
Over the last few decades, the number of alcohol-related educational initiatives exploded, branching out to high schools, colleges, and communities. In the coming years, residents can expect to see the same type of programs put into place for distracted driving.
Who can help me if I suffer injuries in a Colorado car accident?
If you suffered injuries in a Denver area car accident caused by a drunk, distracted, or careless driver, the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, LLC can help you recover the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
Call us today at 303-758-4777 for a free case evaluation, or to learn more about our smart, aggressive, and compassionate representation.