While our cars may be safer these days because of technological advances, it doesn’t follow that our roadways are. In 2017, U.S. deaths related to vehicular crashes remained at decade highs. The National Safety Council (NSC) reported in February, 2018, that traffic-related deaths during 2017 exceeded 40,100, roughly matching 2016’s number. It would be as if the entire city of Annapolis died each year.
From 2006 through 2015, motor vehicle accident deaths declined. A number of human factors, however, have driven the fatality rate up since 2015. These factors include an increase in miles driven, driver distraction, and DUIs.
What’s Going On?
It’s not our cars’ fault. More than one-fifth of 2017 vehicles were sold with ADAS installed (Advanced Driver Assistance System), which includes safety features such as keep-in-lane warning systems, adaptive cruise control, and autonomous braking systems. Just two years earlier, only 8 percent of new cars had ADAS installed. Reasons that ADAS installations have become more common include reduced costs—as little as $1,800 now—and the availability on smaller, inexpensive cars like the Honda Civic. Passenger vehicles are the safest they’ve ever been.
Instead, it is the human factor—our tendencies to become distracted, drowsy, and get behind the wheel when under the influence—that have increased traffic deaths. For example, over 10,000 people in 2016, or one in four, died in crashes associated with impaired driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). DUI deaths have become such a problem that states are increasingly considering dropping the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentage from 0.08 to 0.05. (So far, the only state actually to do so is Utah; the 0.05 BAC limit goes into effect December 30, 2018.)
Other Factors at Play
Our cell phones are slowly killing us because we can’t seem to put them down, not even to drive. About 26 percent of crashes are related to distraction due to cell phones, according to NSC estimates, while the NHTSA’s 2015 figures indicate that distracted driving caused 3,477 deaths.
New research into drowsy driving has established that sleepiness also causes a significant number of crashes—approximately 10 percent of them—which is about five times more collisions than previously thought. Older national figures had pegged drowsy driving as the reason for only 2 percent of accidents. A AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s study, released in February, 2018, employed a new method to track driver sleepiness based on whether a driver’s eyes were closed (PERCLOS), as measured by in-vehicle technology.
It’s Up to Us
Technology, while it helps, is not going to save us. Only changing our behaviors can do that, such as paying full attention while driving and not getting behind the wheel when we are drowsy or impaired. One more thing we can do is wear our seat belts. You might not believe it, but half of all traffic fatalities occur because seat belts are not in use. The earliest seat belts were installed in cars at least 50 years ago, and yet some of us still don’t wear them. As Deborah Hersman, chief executive for the NSC, has commented, “The same things that have been killing us for decades are still killing us.”
We’re listening. How can we help you?
The aftermath of a motor vehicle crash can be life-changing for the accident victims and their family members, and often takes years of patience and dedication to overcome. If you believe another party was responsible for the injuries or losses you have suffered in a car accident in Maryland, Steven Heisler has the experience necessary to help you get your life back on track successfully.
At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, we have devoted our practice to defending the rights of personal injury victims. We know how traumatic a serious car accident can be for both the injured person and for his or her family. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a vehicular accident, you may be entitled to various kinds of financial compensation, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Keep in mind, however, that there is a statute of limitations – or a time limit – for filing personal injury claims. If you have been injured in an accident, you should not delay. Contact Steve today for a free initial consultation by calling 1-410-625-4878, or use our online form.