The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the final data on car crash fatalities from 2015 and the numbers are not good. For the past five decades, traffic-related deaths have been on the decline. This past year saw a 7.2% increase in traffic fatalities compared to the previous year—the highest it’s been since 2008. The nation hasn’t seen a one-year increase of this size since 1966.
In just a decade, safety programs and vehicle improvements helped reduce traffic-related deaths by nearly 25%. This dramatic increase in traffic fatalities spurred the White House into action. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and NHTSA are conducting an investigation to try and determine the cause of the rising traffic deaths. Even without the completed report, they have some preliminary thoughts behind the increase in fatalities.
More jobs and cheaper fuel. Both of these factors correlate to an increased number of drivers on the roadways. This includes driving for leisure (e.g. vacations and day trips) and young people driving. Total vehicle miles traveled in 2015 rose by more than 3.5%. That is the largest surge in almost 25 years.
Poor safety habits. Driving safety campaigns seem to have lost their edge in 2015. Almost half of the passenger vehicle fatalities involved the occupant not wearing a seat belt. Nearly one third of the fatalities involved drunk driving or speeding. One in ten involved distracted driving.
In essence, there are more drivers making poor safety decisions. The data shows that driving drunk, distracted driving, speeding, and not wearing a seat belt all contribute to an increase in traffic-related deaths. Drivers can reduce their risk by making safe choices such as wearing their seat belts, following the speed limit, and staying focused on the road. This increase in passenger vehicles and poor safety habits poses a serious risk to truck drivers. To learn more about reducing trucking risks, contact us.