NSC Estimates 2016 Motor Vehicle Deaths to be Highest in Nine Years

Recently, the National Safety Council (NSC) released preliminary data for 2016 that indicates as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year. This number represents a six percent increase over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014. That marks “the most dramatic two-year escalation” in more than 60 years.  NSC, a leading nonprofit organization with a mission to eliminate preventable accidents, examined data from the National Center of Health Statistics, a bureau of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to collect the following facts:

  • About 4.6 million “roadway users” were injured seriously enough to require medical treatment.
  • More than 100 people a day die in motor vehicle crashes.
  • The estimated cost to society of vehicle crashes in 2016 was $432 billion.

Many observers have commented that the national motor vehicle accident rate and fatality rate are simply returning to their pre-recession norms. More economic activity, more employment, people with more money to spend, and the availability of cheap, abundant gasoline combine to increase motor vehicle traffic, which inevitably leads to more accidents and more fatalities.

But NSC president and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman isn’t buying the idea of inevitability. “Our complacency is killing us,” she says. “Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn't true. The U.S. lags [behind] the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven't done it.”

NSC is calling for the implementation of a list of “life-saving measures,” including:

  • Mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers
  • Better education about the nature of impairment and when it begins
  • Installation and use of automated enforcement techniques to catch speeders
  • Extending laws banning all cellphone use — including hands-free devices — to all drivers, not just teen drivers
  • Upgrading enforcement of cellphone bans from secondary to primary in all states
  • Upgrading seat-belt laws from secondary to primary enforcement
  • Extending restraint laws to every passenger in every seating position in all kinds of vehicles
  • Adopting a three-tiered licensing system for all new drivers under 21
  • Standardizing and accelerating automotive safety technologies, such as blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning lights, and adaptive headlights
  • Passing or reinstating motorcycle helmet laws
  • Adopting comprehensive programs for pedestrian safety

This is an ambitious legislative program, but drivers do not have to wait for their state legislature to act before taking decisive steps to improve highway safety. Three simple steps can go a long way: don’t speed, don’t drink and drive, and don’t let yourself be distracted by cellphones or any other source. By eliminating these leading causes of preventable accidents, you drastically improve your chances of arriving safely at your destination.

If you are injured in an auto accident in Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina, we’re ready to put more than 200 years of combined legal experience to work for you. Call Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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