With millions upon millions of vehicles of all shapes and sizes traveling up and down the roads all across the United States, it is clear that the rise in the number of vehicles has caused an increase in the amount of motor vehicle fatalities (Car Accidents). According to the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 37,461 people killed in crashes upon U.S. roadways during 2016, an increase from 34,485 in 2015. These fatalities occurred in nearly all segments of the population. These include passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, occupants of large trucks, motorcyclists, bicyclists, alcohol impaired drivers, both male and female, occurring during the day and at night.
According to the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 37,461 people killed in crashes upon U.S. roadways during 2016, an increase from 34,485 in 2015.
An increase in Motor Vehicle Fatalities
In 2016, the fatality rates for passenger car occupants decreased from 40 percent the prior year to 36 percent in 2016. However, there was a substantial rise in the fatality rates for motorcyclist fatalities. This figure rose to 14 percent of all traffic fatalities. By person type, these figures changed as well. The number of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities increased by 1,075. This increase is greater than 4 percent increase. It accounted for 54 percent of the overall traffic fatalities in 2016. Motorcyclist fatalities increased by 257, a 5.1 percent increase. These fatalities in 2016 amounted to 5,286, the highest number since 2008. Pedestrian fatalities increased by 492, which was a 9 percent increase. Total pedestrian fatalities in 2016 were 5,987, the highest number since 1990. The last category is that of bicycle riders. These fatalities increased to 840 in 2016, an 11 percent increase, the greatest number since 1991.
Other Factors to Consider-Human Choices
Of the total fatalities recorded in 2016, once could place them in categories based upon human choices. The following is a list of Human Choices examined by the report. First is UNRESTRAINED PASSENGER VEHICLE FATALITIES. This Human Choice category experienced an increase in the number of fatalities of 4.6%. The second Human Choice category considered was SPEEDING. Speeding account for a 4% increase in fatalities in 2016 to a total of 388. ALCOHOL FATALITIES only increased by 1.7% while fatalities for DISTRACTIONS and DROWSY DRIVING both saw significant decreases by -2.2% and -3.5% respectively.
Motor Vehicle Fatalities
These numbers can be startling. There are many reasons why automobile related fatalities are on the rise in Alabama. First and foremost is probably the budget problems that have occurred in Alabama for many years. Steady budget cuts have resulted in fewer and fewer law enforcement officers being on Alabama’s roadways. David Brown, a research associate at the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety, studies the state’s 2016 traffic fatality reports. He found an increase in fatalities involving high-speed crashes.
“Total crashes were up less than 5 percent, but fatalities were up over 25 percent”, he said in an interview. “I think that speeding is the No. 1 problem. There are many times of the day when we only have one or two troopers on duty in a county, so you can speed, and there’s no one to deter it.”
Many people believe that the future hold for us, self-driving cars, as a means of decreasing motor vehicle fatalities. Just as many people disagree and say that we only need a wide range of measures to curb these deaths. Folks have said that we simply need to require passengers in the back seats to also wear seat belts. We need to install more cameras to catch speeding drivers and to tighten regulations on heavy truck operations. These same folks have also advocated for smart phone bans by drivers, including the use of hands-free calling or messaging. They have also advocated for mandatory motorcycle helmet laws in all states and ignition interlocks for individuals who have been found guilty of DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE.
FINAL THOUGHTS|MOTOR VEHICLE FATALITIES
Why have Americans come to accept the rising number of motor vehicle fatalities? The rise in motor vehicle fatalities continues to increase all while ringing an alarm. It looks as though no one is listening. If we fail to take action, the carnage on our roadways will continue to increase with an ever rising death toll. Just in the past few years, 3 states have raised their speed limits on at least some portion of their interstate highways. With the great advancements made in automobile safety such as design, anti-lock brakes, and positional awareness features, Americans and Alabamians continue to die at an increasing pace due to automobile accidents. The truth is, the thriving economy has put more people on the road. They are in newer and faster cars than ever before. If we want to start making a dent in the number of fatalities due to automobile accidents each year there are 3 things we can do. Every passenger in every vehicle wears a seat belt, drink less alcohol or not at all when planning to drive a motor vehicle, and lastly slow down; stop Speeding. For more information regarding these issues check out the National Safety Council and their Road to Zero initiative.