Preliminary estimates sow U.S. traffic fatalities were slightly lower during the first half of 2017 than over the same period last year. Unfortunately, they remained 8 percent higher than in 2015. Worse, the 2016 number was a 6-percent jump over 2015 and represented the largest two-year increase since 1964. Moreover, the fatality rate typically goes up in the second half of the year.
This information comes from the National Safety Council, which has been tracking U.S. fatality trends for nearly 100 years. The group estimates that 18,680 people have already died on American roads since January — and 2.1 more were seriously injured.
The financial cost alone of these injuries and deaths is estimated at $191 billion, to say nothing of the human cost.
Last year, the Council estimated that 40,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2016. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether the upward trend will continue over the rest of the year.
“The price of our cultural complacency is more than a hundred fatalities each day,” said the National Safety Council’s president and CEO. “Although the numbers may be leveling off, the Road to Zero deaths will require accelerating improvements in technology, engaging drivers, and investing in our infrastructure.”
What caused the uptick in roadway fatalities?
According to the Council, it might actually be the case that a better economy and lower gas prices are contributing to the high numbers of traffic fatalities. Improved economics and less costly gas both tend to put more drivers on the road, and more miles driven is often associated with a greater risk of accidents.
That should not imply, however, that traffic fatalities are inevitable or do not involve human error. As the head of the Council mentioned, improvements in technology and infrastructure can reduce the accident rate, as can engaging drivers in issues such as avoiding drunk or distracted driving. We all need to do our part to ensure that 2017 doesn’t continue the negative trend of previous years.
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, we encourage you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of your rights and legal options.