Even though cars are getting safer, traffic deaths in the United States are on the rise. In 2022, there were approximately 42,795 fatal traffic crashes, up 43% from 2011 and the highest number of traffic deaths since 2005.
Several factors may be contributing to this increase, including:
- The rise of SUVs and pickup trucks. SUVs and pickup trucks are more likely to kill or seriously injure pedestrians and cyclists when they are involved in a crash. This is because they are larger and heavier than cars.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving is a major factor in many traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2020.
- Speeding. Speeding is another major factor in traffic crashes. According to the NHTSA, 11,258 people died in speeding-related crashes in 2020.
- Impaired driving. Impaired driving is a third major factor in traffic crashes. According to the NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2020.
In addition to these factors, there are a few other things that may be contributing to the rise in traffic deaths, such as:
- The aging population. As the population ages, there are more older drivers on the road. Older drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than younger drivers.
- The increasing popularity of e-bikes and scooters. E-bikes and scooters are becoming more popular, but they are not as safe as cars. In 2020, there were 812 cyclist deaths in the United States, and 275 of those deaths were e-bike riders.
- The lack of pedestrians and cyclist infrastructure. In many parts of the United States, there are not enough sidewalks and bike lanes. This forces pedestrians and cyclists to share the road with cars, which increases their risk of being involved in a crash.
Despite these facts, some measures can reduce traffic deaths:
- Designing safer roads and vehicles. This includes lowering the speed limit in certain areas, building more sidewalks and bike lanes, and requiring automakers to design safer vehicles for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Enforcing traffic laws; enforcing speed limits, cracking down on distracted driving and impaired driving, and ensuring that drivers are properly licensed and insured.
- Educating the public about traffic safety. Educating drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists about the dangers of the road and how to stay safe.
Given the high car accident fatality rate, anyone can lose a loved one in a car accident. Attorney J.J. Dominguez of The Dominguez Firm elaborates, “If the unthinkable happens and you lose someone in a traffic accident, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim against those responsible if you are the deceased’s legal next-of-kin. It’s best to speak to a car accident attorney right away if you find yourself in this situation.”
What Can You Do?
If you are a driver, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of being involved in a traffic crash:
- Obey all traffic laws, including driving at the speed limit, stopping at red lights and stop signs, and yielding to pedestrians and cyclists.
- Avoid distracted driving. In addition to putting away your phone, turn your radio down and don’t eat or drink while driving.
- Never drive impaired. If you have been drinking or using drugs, do not drive.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the road and other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
If you are a pedestrian or cyclist, here’s what you can do to reduce your risk of being involved in a traffic crash:
- Obeying all traffic laws, including crossing the street at crosswalks and giving pedestrians the right of way.
- Be visible. Wear bright clothing and reflective gear at night.
- Be predictable. Avoid sudden movements and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
By taking these steps, we can all help to make our roads safer for everyone.