The risk of car accidents has gone up dramatically in the past several years. The blame lies almost entirely with careless and reckless drivers. Improving economic conditions has resulted in more traffic on U.S. roads, but a recent NPR report makes clear this is not the only explanation for the sharp rise in crash deaths between 2014 and 2016. In fact, the crash rate is higher than it's been since 2007. This is especially puzzling considering advances in vehicle technologies have made cars safer.
So what is the reason for more car accident fatalities occurring? The answer: continued bad behavior on the part of drivers, along with some new dangerous actions that motorists are engaging in. Drivers throughout Maine need to be aware of the kinds of things that people do behind the wheel that increase the chance of a crash so they can drive defensively and refrain from being a negligent driver themselves.
NPR reports around 94 percent of all fatal car accidents occur because of human error. Drivers are required to use reasonable care on the roads. The term "accident" implies the driver couldn't help it, and this is simply not true. Drivers need to be empowered to do what they can to reduce crashes, and also be accountable to crash victims when they fall short.
There are a number of different behaviors that drivers engage in that are very likely to cause fatal accidents to happen. One troubling study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and reported on by NPR found that more than 70 percent of drivers admit they speed, text or run red lights. Among drivers aged 19 to 24, this figure jumped up to 88 percent. Studies also show that about 10 percent of motorists admit to driving drunk.
The three leading causes of car accidents in the country are intoxicated driving, speeding and distracted driving. Two of these risks are becoming worse. USA Today reported there has been a troubling epidemic of accidents caused by drugged driving, while distracted driving is growing more common in part because of the increased prevalence of infotainment systems in vehicles.
Although these infotainment systems are supposed to be safer because they are generally hands-free, Live Science explains that in-car technology is simply not safe even if you're not using your hands. The cognitive distraction that these systems cause can cause inattention blindness and can actually sometimes be more dangerous than handheld systems because the systems take longer to use and because drivers think they are safer, even when they aren't.
Motorists don't have to just sit back and let accident rates rise, especially as more than 40,000 people died in 2016 in car accidents in the United States — the highest number of fatalities since 2007. Every driver should make a commitment to respond to the increasing number of fatalities by giving up the kinds of dangerous behaviors that are causing deadly crashes to occur in record numbers.
To help educate young drivers in their most formative years, our law firm holds an annual Arrive Alive Creative Contest for high school seniors. Now in its 13th year, the contest asks seniors to come up with a creative message to send to their peers about the dangers of drinking and driving and/or distracted driving. In the past 12 years, our law firm has given away over $110,000 in prizes to help put an end to dangerous and distracted driving.