Traffic Deaths Drop in 29 States, But Challenges Remain
Is there an end in sight when it comes to traffic deaths in the United States? The answer is unclear, but according to recent estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is some hope—at least for the post-pandemic era.
Traffic fatalities have declined for the fifth quarter. During the first half of 2023, there have been an estimated 19,515 roadway deaths. This accounts for a 3.3% decrease from the same period in 2022 despite a higher number of vehicle miles driven. However, this number is still significantly higher than the 17,025 deaths during the same period in 2019. Plus, not every state experienced the same decline in traffic deaths.
“After spiking during the pandemic, traffic deaths are continuing to slowly come down—but we still have a long way to go,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
According to the NHTSA, 29 states experienced fewer traffic fatalities. Twenty-one states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, saw an increase. New York saw a decrease of 2.2% in the number of road deaths. It also saw a decrease in the traffic fatality rate from 0.98 to 0.92 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
Why are traffic deaths still so high?
Despite ongoing efforts to improve road safety, traffic fatalities remain high primarily due to negligent driving. This includes:
- Impaired driving: Alcohol and drug-impaired driving continue to be major contributors to traffic fatalities. In 2021, drunk driving resulted in 13,384 deaths nationwide. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely. Alcohol and drugs affect coordination, judgment, and reaction times. When individuals drive impaired, they may struggle to control their vehicles, make poor decisions on the road, and react slowly to unexpected situations. This impaired state can easily result in collisions, often with tragic consequences.
- Distracted driving: The use of electronic devices, such as smartphones, while driving has become a leading cause of collisions. Roughly 3,522 people died in the U.S. during 2021 due to distracted driving. When a driver is distracted, they may not notice important road signs, changes in traffic flow, or other vehicles around them. This divided attention can lead to delayed reactions, missed braking opportunities, and failure to avoid obstacles, all of which can result in accidents.
- Speeding: The higher the speed, the more likely a crash will be fatal. About 12,330 people were killed in speed-related crashes in 2021. Speeding increases the kinetic energy of a vehicle, making it harder for the driver to control. When a vehicle is traveling at excessive speeds, it requires a longer distance to come to a stop or navigate corners. Additionally, high speeds reduce the driver's ability to react quickly to sudden changes in traffic or road conditions. These factors combine to make speeding a major contributor to crashes, particularly those with severe or fatal outcomes.
- Drowsy driving: Falling asleep at the wheel causes drivers to lose control, resulting in devastating collisions. Drowsy driving resulted in 684 traffic fatalities in 2021. Fatigue impairs cognitive functions and reduces a driver's alertness. As a result, drowsy drivers may have slower reaction times, struggle to stay in their lanes, and even fall asleep at the wheel. This loss of control and attentiveness can lead to accidents as drivers are unable to make timely decisions or avoid collisions.
In essence, impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, and drowsy driving all compromise a driver's ability to maintain control of their vehicle and respond effectively to changing road conditions. These factors introduce significant risks that can result in accidents, causing injuries and fatalities on the road.
While not necessarily causes, these factors also contribute to the high number of traffic deaths:
- Infrastructure and road design: Poorly designed or maintained road infrastructure can contribute to fatal crashes. This includes inadequate signage, poorly marked lanes, lack of pedestrian crosswalks, and insufficient lighting.
- Vehicle safety: Vehicle safety features have improved significantly over the years. However, many older vehicles lack advanced safety technology. Additionally, some drivers may not fully utilize available safety features or may use them incorrectly.
- Failure to use seatbelts: Despite the known benefits of seatbelt use, a significant number of people still don't buckle up. Seatbelts are one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of injury or death in a crash.
Crash victims have legal rights
In the Bronx, if you've been involved in a car accident, it's crucial to understand that you don't have to navigate the complex legal process alone. Whether you've been injured due to impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, or any other circumstance, a Bronx car accident lawyer from Giampa Law can provide the legal guidance and support you need.
To discuss your case and explore your potential legal options, contact us today for a free consultation. We would be honored to talk to you about your potential legal case.