Traffic Fatalities Over 40,000 For Third Continuous Year
February 14th, 2019
It can be scary out on the road. For the third straight year, traffic deaths have topped 40,000 yearly according to the National Safety Council. That jumps 14 percent from 2014. The number is down 1 percent since 2017 which resulted in 40,231 traffic deaths. In 2016, 40,327 traffic fatalities were recorded. Injuries were up 1 percent from last year with 4.5 million people suffering major injuries from auto crashes.
We've all seen distracting driving. People texting while driving, applying makeup, people have even been seen reading. Distracted driving takes up a big chunk of the pie when it comes to accidents. Also, new vehicles are equipped with some fancy in-dash infotainment systems that can sometimes take eyes off the road longer than they need to be.
Of course, different states have different statistics. A 5.8 increase in traffic-related deaths includes Hawaii, Florida, Washington D.C., Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. States that saw a decline of 9.4 percent for 2018 are Maine, New Jersey, Kansas, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.
"Driver behavior is likely contributing to the numbers staying stubbornly high," the National Safety Council points out. "The Council’s estimates do not reveal causation; however, 2017 final data show spikes in deaths among pedestrians, while distraction continues to be involved in 8 percent of crashes, and drowsy driving in an additional 2 percent."
Automatic Emergency Braking systems (AEBS) are making their way into more vehicles compared to ten years ago, but there's not enough for it to be thoroughly integrated into the general population of cars. Some vehicles have radar sensors and mini cameras mounted within the vehicle that help sense an object in front of the vehicle and its position and speed. Pedestrian and cyclist detection is only offered in a handful of models including Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Subaru models, along with a few others. Not enough vehicles are carrying this technology for it to make a dent in the traffic death numbers involving pedestrians. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is putting some of these AEB and pedestrian-detecting systems to the test, and the systems vary greatly with what they do in a real-world situation.
"Forty-thousand deaths is unacceptable," said Nicholas Smith, interim president and CEO of NSC. "We cannot afford to tread water anymore. We know what works, but we need to demonstrate the commitment to implementing the solutions. Roadway deaths are preventable by doubling down on what works, embracing technology advancements and creating a culture of safer driving."