The Other Epidemic America
Has Been Sleeping On
In This Article
2020 brought us a lot of things to be concerned about; Covid-19, murder hornets, and the civil rights uproar. One thing that didn’t seem to make headlines however was the increase of motor vehicle deaths in the United States by 7.2 percent, regardless of people driving less due to the pandemic. This is the highest recorded in 13 years. There has been a steady incline in car accident deaths per year throughout the United States. Some of the major causes of road crashes are cell phone use, drunk driving, and high travel speeds. Many of the road fatalities are caused by unrestrained occupants or improper restraint use, incorrectly installed child safety seats, or are pedestrian deaths.
The Dangers of Driving in Florida
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2019 there were over 400,000 car crashes in the state of Florida. Of those, over 14,000 were incapacitating injury crashes. The number of fatal car accidents in 2019 was nearly 3000. Florida is the third deadliest state for motor vehicle crashes according to the Federal Highway Administration, following California and Texas. Motor vehicle crashes are terrifyingly common, and car accident deaths are near in number to those caused by guns.
A Public Health Emergency
A recent report ranks the United States amongst the worst for road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants. Traffic deaths on rural roads are almost as much as on urban roads, which are more than half, the study shows. This statistic goes to show that car accidents happen everywhere you go. And this trend isn’t showing evidence of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, in the U.S., road traffic deaths were around 32,000 in 2010, with an increase to nearly 37,000 in 2019. There were 1.02 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2019.
Where’s The Most Damage?
Some of our most vulnerable road users are pedestrians. Where walking trips increased significantly between 1990 and 2017, pedestrian fatalities rose by 45%. The last four years were the most deadly in three decades. Certain weather conditions can increase risks for pedestrians if they are forced to leave the sidewalk. More common than pedestrian-involved motor vehicle accidents are crashes of two or more cars, or single-vehicle crashes involving stationary objects.
Many motor vehicle crash deaths occur with incorrect seat belt use or when drivers or passengers don’t wear seat belts at all, where the relative proportion of vehicle occupant fatalities by ejection increased by 20%. Motor vehicle accidents are dangerous enough, but the risk of death for unrestrained occupants increases dramatically. Road traffic deaths occur all over the country, but the three most deadly states are California, Texas, and Florida.
Death Rate by Age, Gender, and Race
In 2020, 20% of people killed by car accidents are young people between the ages of 25-34. Teen drivers and young adults between the ages of 16-24 account for 17% of traffic fatalities. Other age groups each accounted for around 13-15% of traffic deaths.
There is a stark contrast between deaths of different genders. In 2020, males accounted for 27,967 deaths, and females accounted for 10,712 deaths.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, another staggering statistic is that people of color experienced 23-54% more motor vehicle crash deaths in 2020 than they had in 2019, compared to whites with a 4% increase.
Impacts of Road Crashes
When car accidents occur, serious injury is common. In the event of car accidents, drivers and vehicle occupants may require extended medical care following the crash, or have extensive property damage. This can quickly build up debt and stress for those involved and potentially lead to lost wages from missed work from road traffic injuries.
In the event of fatal crashes, family and friends of drivers or passengers involved are left to deal with the fallout. This global epidemic of fatal crashes leaves thousands grieving every year.
What's Causing The Crashes and What Can Be Done?
Drunk Driving or Impaired Driving
Drunk driving and impaired driving is a known cause for car accidents and those causing serious injury or fatalities. For alcohol, the federal limit to legally drive is a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration. It is against the law to drive when impaired. There are many resources to travel if needed such as public transportation, rideshare apps, or contacting friends or family.
Speeding & Reckless Driving
Posted speed limits are the law and are determined to be the safest speed to drive on that road for everyone around. Road fatalities occur when drivers speed or drive recklessly and lose control of their vehicles. Obeying the speed limit and obeying traffic law helps everyone get to their destination safely by avoiding fatal car accidents.
One of the leading causes of road crashes is distracted driving. Distracted driving includes texting, eating, talking on the phone, playing with the radio, or fiddling with items in your vehicle. Simple remediation is to put the phone away and concentrate on your driving. Driving is a lot more involved than people believe. It involves multiple senses like vision, hearing, and kinesthetics and takes intense concentration.
Different weather situations can create dangerous road conditions increasing risk of traffic fatalities. Nearly one million road crashes each year are weather-related in the U.S. Rain, snow, sleet, and fog are all conditions that can be difficult to see where you are driving or can create slippery surfaces. Planning your trips ahead of time accordingly will help prevent the chances of driving in inclement weather.
The national Center for Disease Control says teen drivers are three times as likely to be involved in fatal car crashes per vehicle miles traveled compared to those older than 20 years of age. Teens driving with their peers in the car are more likely to be involved in car accidents, and chances of a crash are more likely in young adults within the first few months of earning their drivers license. Male teen drivers were more than twice as likely to be killed in fatal car accidents than females. It is important for young or inexperienced drivers to have more time behind the wheel with an experienced driver supervising than what is minimally required, and to limit additional passengers in the vehicle that may be a distraction.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Road users are more likely to be involved in road crashes with dangerous road conditions such as unexpected potholes, bumps, or sharp turns. It is important for road safety to remain vigilant while driving to avoid unexpected conditions and avoid losing control of your vehicle. Seat belt use is crucial to avoid getting killed when experiencing dangerous road conditions.
A Change in Policy
Traffic control such as road design and speed limits are set by the state and are not controlled federally. Having states yield control over roadways to the federal government is one way to keep track of our road laws and lessen the number of people killed in fatal car accidents. How many car accidents is it going to take until real, effective policy is made?
The director of Vision Zero Network claims many state-specific policies have shown little success. Road traffic deaths occur more often than they should as states have little incentive to reduce the motor vehicle fatality rate by lessening road crashes caused by poor policymaking. The United States can take some plays from the book of our friends across the pond. The fatality rate can be brought down, with cooperation and change at the state level. Start with writing a message to your state policymakers and urge them to create change today to this rising global epidemic.
Fran Haasch Is Here For You.
Even with perfect policies in place and drivers taking precautions to increase road safety, the reality is that there will still be car accidents. In these instances, Fran Haasch Law Group is here to fight for your recovery. Call our office at (727) 758-0233 for your case evaluation. And remember: Always wear your seat belt.