According to a statement released by the US Department of Transportation on December 19, 2014, traffic fatalities were down by 3.1% from the previous year. The number of fatalities in total is down 25% since 2004.
This is great news, but it still means over 32,000 people died in 2013 due to traffic accidents. David Friedman, Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has done a breakdown of the figures. He said that close to an average of 90 people lose their lives each day and over 250 people are injured every hour in traffic accidents.
What are some contributing factors in these accidents? And how does North Carolina rate in the traffic fatality rankings?
Rating North Carolina Highways
In 2010, The Daily Beast put out an article entitled America’s 100 Deadliest Highways. Where did North Carolina rank on this list? Three North Carolina highways made it onto the list: I-95 at #44, I-85 at #66, and I-77 at #77. Data was compiled over a four year period, from 2004 to 2008. In total, the number of fatalities amounted to 397.
When comparing that number to the US total of over 30,000 per year, it may seem insignificant. We need to remember, though, that these numbers represent individuals, not just numbers on a piece of paper. Even one life lost due to a traffic accident should be too much.
In order to prevent fatal traffic accidents, we must first look at the causes.
Causes of Fatal Traffic Accidents
The following are four of the ten common causes of fatal traffic accidents that we will be discussing.
- Drunk driving: Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol leaves a person physically and mentally impaired. When driving under such conditions, a driver not only puts themselves at risk for injury or death, they also put innocent lives in danger.
- Reckless driving: There are many people on the road who “think they own the road,” to coin a popular phrase. Some people have the tendency to drive like there is no one else on the road, or like they think others should get out of their way. Tailgating and cutting other drivers off are just two reckless driving habits that have resulted in fatalities.
- Weather: Harsh weather has a definite impact on driving conditions. White outs, slippery roads due to rain, hydroplaning, and black ice are dangerous. Drivers can easily lose control of their vehicle in these kinds of conditions, whether they’re practicing safe driving or not.
- Speeding: Speed limits are put in place for a reason: to save lives. Going over the speed limit can cause all sorts of problems. Reaction time is reduced, so stopping the vehicle in time to prevent an accident is difficult to do. Speeding in bad weather or on treacherous roads has also contributed to a number of fatalities.
Next week we will discuss six more contributing factors of fatal traffic accidents. We will also show how you can do your part to avoid them.