2015 To Be One of Worst Years Ever?
Here’s an important subject that noone talks about: the National Safety Council announced yesterday that auto and truck collision injuries and deaths are rising dramatically across the nation.
So far in 2015, almost 19,000 people have died in crashes. This is a whopping 14 percent increase over the same six-month period in 2014. At this rate, about 40,000 people will die this year — almost the number of our soldiers who died in the Vietnam War.
And 2.3 million people have sustained serious injuries in traffic wrecks during the first-half of 2015, up an astonishing 30 percent from last year’s first six months.
If this trend continues, 2015 will be the deadliest driving year since 2007, one of the worst years on record.
And the financial costs resulting from the many more accidents have naturally escalated. The NSC estimates the costs associated with car and truck accident fatalities, injuries and property damages between January and June were a shocking $152 billion — a 24 percent increase from just last year. This includes lost wages, diminished productivity, medical bills, administrative expenses, employer costs and damage to motor vehicles and other property.
The Usual Suspects: Speeding, Alcohol, and Cell Phones
Why the steep increase? The NSC attributed the rising traffic fatalities, in part, to a healthy economy –lower gas prices, more jobs and more money for vacation put more people on the road.
But these factors do not account for the dramatic increases. The head of the NSC also blamed speeding, alcohol impairment and distracted driving — topics I often blog about since they cause most of the collisions I see.
How Texas Fared in Driving Safety
Driving deaths declined in DC and 14 states, including Texas. But don’t celebrate our state’s fine safety record yet. Texas saw only a slight one percent decrease (1,668 deaths in 2014 to 1,643 deaths in 2015). Imagine almost all of the Bass Hall or Meyerson Symphony Building filled with people. Where our vehicular-related deaths may be declining, Texas still has the most deaths of any state in the country — twice the rate of California, which has 11 million more people.
Tips for Staying Safe on the Road
The NSC makes some helpful recommendations for staying safe on the road:
- Use your seatbelt
- Don’t drive if you have been drinking
- Don’t drive if too tired or fatigued
- Never use your cell phone while driving
- Remain engaged in your teen’s driving behavior
- Know and use your car’s safety features
We urge you to follow these simple steps to stay safe on North Texas streets and highways. As the head of the NSC said, “Be a defensive driver and make safe decisions behind the wheel. Your life really depends on it.”