Traffic fatalities rose 9 percent in the first six months of 2016 compared with a year earlier, according to numbers released by the National Safety Council this week. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, traffic fatalities have been trending upward since 2014 when the price of gasoline plummeted and a stronger economy put more drivers and vehicles on our roadways. Vermont, Oregon and New Hampshire saw the most increases in traffic accident fatalities.
Until recent years, traffic fatalities were on a decades-long decline hitting a historic low in 2011. But last year saw the biggest percentage increase in traffic deaths in the last 50 years, the NSC reported earlier this year. The NSC also estimated that the total cost for crashes in the first half of 2016 was about $205 billion. When we look at the number of deaths in the first half of this year, it amounts to100 traffic accident deaths a day in 2016.
What’s Causing the Spike?
According to safety officials, some of the causes for this disturbing spike in traffic deaths include lower gas prices and a better economy. But one of the main reasons, they say, for this increase in traffic deaths is distracted driving. While there are the everyday distractions of eating, drinking or grooming while driving, what’s made a significant difference in the last few years is the skyrocketing use of smartphones.
A Growing Scourge
Drivers are not just talking on these phones while driving or texting. As we’ve learned from recent reports, they are taking selfies while driving. They’re posting these images or random thoughts on social media sites while driving. And then, they’re checking these social media sites while driving to see how many people “liked” their posts or commented on them.
We all need to do our part to curb distracted driving. While surveys show that drivers know and acknowledge how dangerous distracted driving can be, they also admit to driving distracted often. It is also important to remember that in addition to facing fines and criminal charges if you injure someone while driving distracted, you could also be held financially responsible for the injuries and damages you cause. Distracted driving is simply not worth it. If you are driving, put your phone away or turn it off so you are never tempted to use it on the road.