Every year, the number of traffic accidents and the resulting injuries and fatalities are closely monitored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA describes its mission as to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle-related crashes. This is an incredibly important task as car accidents continue to be a leading cause of death among Americans of all ages, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives annually and causing pain and suffering to hundreds of thousands.
As part of its mission, NHTSA monitors numerous factors that go into and stem from traffic crashes each year and a review of their preliminary data from 2015 shows an increase in the total number of fatalities by 7.7 percent over 2014 numbers.
It is believed that approximately 35,200 people lost their lives on American roadways in 2015, an increase over the 32,675 people that were killed in 2014. The most significant increases in fatalities happened among bicyclists and pedestrians, two groups of people that are abundant in Chicago and that face safety threats every time they take to the roads.
Experts have not concluded definitively what causes lay behind this substantial increase in fatalities but they suspect a variety of factors are playing a role. Among them the low price of gasoline and the increase in the number of miles traveled annually by a typical driver are relevant. So is the fact that more and more Americans are driving while distracted, especially by a cell phone, even though doing so is dangerous and illegal in almost all areas. Others speculate that a disregard for public safety rules, including posted speed limits, and a general belief that a driver will not be involved in a collision are contributing to the high number of fatalities.
It is important to understand why these deaths are on the rise so that steps can be taken to address the root causes of these collisions, thereby reducing accidents and saving lives. Few people realize how far reaching the damage from a collision can be but when a loved one is killed, not only does that individual’s life end but the lives of her family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and loved ones will never be the same again. The people who depended on her for financial support will suffer indefinitely as a victim will be unable to provide for those left behind, and the emotional toll enacted will never be undone.
Experts agree that roughly 94 percent of all collisions are due to the fault or mistake of one or more people involved. Therefore, to reduce collisions, the best thing that can be done is for each driver to act in a manner that is reasonably likely to ensure the driver and those around him arrive at their destinations without incident. This can mean refraining from speeding, stopping for all yellow lights, leaving plenty of distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, or even avoiding the use of a cell phone including one in hands free mode to keep your focus on the roadway. With thousands of different possible ways to become distracted while driving, it is impossible to list them all but it is possible for a driver to avoid any action that makes her focus on something other than the task at hand: driving.
When a collision happens in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, victims or the surviving family members of victims who are killed may be entitled to seek financial compensation for their damages. However, no amount of money will ever be able to undo the damage done so whenever possible, it is best and desirable to avoid a crash.
Prior Blog Entry:
Who is to Blame When a Chicago Train Accident Happens?, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, published July 12, 2016.
NHTSA data shows traffic deaths up 7.7 percent in 2015, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, published July 1, 2016.