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Most of us feel relatively safe when we get behind the wheel. But the National Safety Council’s newest estimates make 2016 one of the worst years for traffic deaths in recent memory.
You probably don’t spend a lot of time worrying if your morning commute is killing you (except maybe when you’re stuck in traffic). But the chances of you getting into a fatal accident this year are higher than they’ve been in years. Fatal motor vehicle crashes are up, statistically. And it could be a dark lining to an otherwise silver cloud.
The National Safety Council, a nonprofit organization created by Congress to address key safety issues nationwide, recently released its preliminary estimates for the first 6 months of 2016. And the results are pretty grim. An estimated 19,100 American motorists were killed between January 1 and June 30. Another 2.2 million were injured. At this rate, 2016’s annual traffic deaths could top 40,000, and that is an alarmingly high number.
Higher, in fact, than any year since 2007. The upward trend in auto accidents started in late 2014 and has only accelerated since. 2015 showed the largest year-over-year increase in half a century. In Michigan alone, there were 982 traffic deaths in 2015 – a 10% increase over the year before. And 2016’s national preliminary numbers are even worse – 18% higher than the same period in 2014.
The increase seems to be connected to a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates. That, together with lower gas prices, mean our roads are busier places. And more vehicles means more accidents, including fatal car crashes.
“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council [in a public statement]. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”
But we don’t. Instead, we increasingly allow ourselves to become distracted drivers, turning our attention off the road and onto our phones. We take our apparent safety for granted, counting on the fact that “it won’t happen to me.”
Every year that assumption is wrong for tens of thousands of drivers. Motorists need to do more to drive defensively to protect themselves on the road. New car shoppers may also choose a model with safety features like blind spot monitors, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise controls that can help avoid a crash.
A fatal car accident isn’t just something that happens once and a while. It’s reality for thousands of families every day. Do your part to cut down on the numbers. Commit to safe driving practices that will get you, and your family, home safe and sound.
David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law, in Southfield, Michigan. He represents families in wrongful death lawsuits. If your loved one was killed in a car crash, contact Christensen Law today to schedule a free consultation.