2014 was a good year. Well, at least it was better than the previous year. Traffic deaths declined in 2014 – barely – but enough to encourage hope that driving safety was headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, this downward trend was short-lived. So far this year, the number of auto accident deaths has increased by more than eight percent from the same period in 2015.
What These Auto Accident Stats Mean
In 2014 traffic fatalities decreased by a tiny 0.1 percent from 2013. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider that 175 fewer families suffered the unnecessary and heartbreaking loss of their loved ones in 2014 than in the year before.
Drunk Driving Caused About One-Third of 2014 Traffic Deaths
What makes this trend so shocking is how completely preventable it is. Almost every fatal accident could be prevented if drivers took a few easy steps that we only know to do: don’t drink and drive, don’t drive while tired, don’t text or talk and drive, buckle up, watch out for pedestrians and if on a motorcycle, wear a helmet.
Not convinced? Check out the causes of vehicular deaths in 2014:
- Drunk driving resulted in 9,967 fatalities, about one-third of all auto accident fatalities.
- Half of automobile passengers who died in traffic crashes were not wearing seat belts.
- Numbers of deaths of motorcyclists were significantly higher in states that did not impose mandatory motorcycle helmet laws.
- 4,884 pedestrian died in traffic accidents, up 3.1 percent over the previous year.
- 3,179 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, 10 percent of all accident deaths.
- At least 846 people were killed in drowsy driving accidents, 2.6 percent of all accident deaths.
We Must Reverse This Trend
The year is not over yet. We still have time to take action to avoid deaths on our roadways.
But Thanksgiving weekend until New Year’s Day traditionally marks high numbers of traffic deaths. The increase in accidents is typically associated with an increase in alcohol consumption. More people drink during the season of holiday parties, festive dinners and game-day celebrations and then climb behind the wheel to drive home, putting not only their own lives, but everyone else’s lives, at risk.
Add to alcohol use, the many distractions, holiday exhaustion and the rush to get from one destination to another and you have a recipe for disaster.
I am still hopeful that people will act responsibly this year and decrease the numbers of fatal crashes. After 35 years as a personal injury lawyer, I have seen too many of these horrible wrecks and know we have the means to make our roadways safer.