More than 40,000 fatalities occurred in vehicle crashes on U.S. roads in 2018, according to the National Safety Council. This is the third year in a row when motor vehicle crash fatalities reached or exceeded 40,000.
In 2018 road deaths were 231 less than in 2017. This is a decrease of roughly 1 percent. Compared with fatalities four years ago, 2018 fatalities were 14 percent higher. In Virginia, 817 people died, a three percent decrease from last year. These numbers represent a “leveling off” of the number of fatalities after many years of increases.
The National Safety Council believes that driver behavior is contributing to the numbers of crashes, injuries, and fatalities remaining so high. According to their data from 2017, there have been spikes in pedestrian fatalities and the number of crashes caused by distracted driving and drowsy driving.
The Council claims to know what works to reduce the number of crashes. Nicholas Smith (interim president and CEO of NSC) remarked “We know what works, but we need to demonstrate the commitment to implementing the solutions. Roadway deaths are preventable by doubling down on what works, embracing technology advancements and creating a culture of safer driving.”
Safety technologies in recent vehicles have demonstrated their value in reducing the number of crashes. The technologies include automatic emergency braking, collision warning systems, improvements in air bag technologies, and improved safety devices in our vehicles. The related challenge on our roadways is that relatively few vehicles traveling our highways today are equipped with these technologies.
Some preliminary analysis of the 2018 data suggests a decline in crashes connected with drunk driving, speeding and cell phone use while driving. Other factors, however, are quickly replacing them as causes of crashes. These include mixing alcohol and marijuana use in combination, combination of opioids and alcohol or marijuana use, in-vehicle infotainment systems, and new distractions.
What will reduce the number of fatal crashes? Safer driver practices, placing new technologies in more vehicles, and improving highway warnings should reduce the number of crashes. This means ending distracted driving, drunk driving, drugged driving (including prescription drugs), faster response to vehicle recalls, helping drivers fully understand the functionality and value of safety system in their vehicles, and helping teens become safer drivers, and updates for all drivers on defensive driving.
To improve highway safety the National Safety Council made the following recommendations:
- Practice defensive driving.Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions.
- Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from prescription opioids.Visit org to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis.
- Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits.Visit org for resources.
- Learn how to use your vehicle’s safety systems.Visit org for information.
- Fix recalls immediately.Visit org to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall.
- Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways. The NSC State of Safetyreport shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws.
- Join the Road to Zero to understand how safety professionals are addressing motor vehicle fatalities.Visit org/roadtozero to get involved.
[source: https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatality-estimates; retrieved 2/14/2019]
Together we can reduce the number of traffic fatalities. The Altizer Law team is committed to helping those harmed by vehicle accidents. We are equally committed to efforts to educate the public and to help to reduce the number of crashes on Virginia highways. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a vehicle accident, call us for legal representation that will persist until you recover financial compensation for your hurts and harms. If you need a speaker to talk with your organization about highway safety, call us.