While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is still gathering and finalizing “data on crash fatalities for 2013, 2014, and 2015 using information from police accident reports and other sources. Its [sic] too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways.”
The National Safety Council has said that if the trend of the first six months of this year continues, traffic fatalities across the nation will exceed 40,000 – the first time since 2007 – and deaths per 100 million miles traveled will also increase.
Some groups will blame the trend on states raising speed limits, but the real issues, suggests NSC President Deborah Hershman to the Associated Press, are low fuel prices and – shocker – cellphones.
Americans are on the roads more than ever; for 15 consecutive months through May and set an all-time record for travel during the first five months of the year at 1.26 million miles. But does a 3.4% increase in miles match the 14% increase in traffic fatalities?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety seems to believe increased speed limits of some states will lead to more deaths, when, in fact, data and experts have said this is just speculation. Texas and Montana have some of the highest speed limits in the nation, and fatalities are down in those states.
Cellphone use remains the more likely factor here. The NSC conducted a study earlier this year and found cellphone use factored into one quarter of all traffic accidents.
See, with all this technology in cars these days, people still aren’t using it, right down to the hands-free and Bluetooth systems. Hell, I’ve seen dozens of people talking or texting away on their phones as they’re driving (not to be confused with stopped at a red light or train crossing). I’m sure you have, too. And how many of people honestly want to (or will) admit they were using their phone or texting when they hit that other car and killed someone?
Tell me in the comments below: what do YOU think could be a contributing factor in the rise in traffic fatalities?