Assuming that the table posted in the Wikipedia website on “Motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. by year” is correct, then two things are affirmed: cars are bound to crash, as was presumed as early as 1925; and, yearly fatal car crashes (from 1899 – 2004) mostly increased as more cars populated the road.
Since 2005, though, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) have both recorded declines in fatal car crashes, from 43,510 in 2005 down to 32,675 in 2014.
Two non-profit research organizations, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, identify improved structural design and the latest safety features in cars to be the major reasons for the decline. Some of these latest safety or crash avoidance features include: lane departure or lane-keep assist, blind spot alert, park assist, forward collision warning, adaptive headlights, tire pressure monitoring, traction control, electronic stability control, auto emergency braking (AEB), and active braking systems, which either warn drivers of impending collisions or which automatically assist drivers in preventing collisions.
It is quite alarming that, despite the fact that most cars are already equipped with some safety features, reports of increase in auto-related deaths for 2015 have been reported by the NHTSA and the NSC. From the 32,675 death toll in 2014, the NHTSA reports a 9.5% increase for the first three months of 2015, while the NSC reports a 14% increase for the first six months).
One reason for the higher fatal car crash rate is the dramatic increase in the number of cars on the road – the major effect of gas prices going down. With more cars, there were also more cases of alcohol-impaired driving, speeding and people failing to buckle up. However, the top reason for the increase in the death rate is being attributed to cell phone use: drivers texting or conversing with someone and taking selfies and posting these on social media – all of these while trying to keep an eye on the road.
The NHTSA and the NSC agree that, in spite of cars being made safer, text messaging and the increased use of cell phones are defeating all endeavors on getting car crash deaths to go down. Cell phone use is the worst form of distracted driving. Compared to drunk-driving, using a cell phone while driving is up to six times more dangerous.
“Crash” implies that someone has acted illegally or negligently and that this act has caused a collision that has resulted to someone getting either injured or killed. In the view of a West Palm Beach car crash lawyer the outcome of a driver’s mistake or bad decision while behind the wheel, even for just a few seconds, can then lead to irreversible tragic consequences not only the driver but also for other innocent victims. For these, the at-fault driver should be held totally responsible.