According to the Washington Post, since the year 2000, more than 624,000 people died in crashes across the United States - surpassing the 535,000 American military personnel who died in both world wars. In addition, more than 30 million people sustained crash-related injuries.
Whether or not these figures are accurate, the death toll is still too high. So where is the outrage?
Unfortunately, we've come to accept that fatal crashes are inevitable rather than preventable. Rarely does anyone who engages in risky driving behavior believe their actions will hurt or kill someone - but the numbers don't lie.
What's behind the staggering number of fatal crashes?
The Post cites speeding, alcohol-impairment, and distracted driving as the leading causes of fatal crashes. Drowsy driving has become an emerging cause of fatal crashes since being categorized in 2005. This is backed up by federal crash data:
- Drunk driving: From 2000-2017, nearly 213,000 fatal crashes involved motorists who had a blood-alcohol content level of .08 percent. This is despite the decline in drunk driver crashes in the mid-1990s.
- Speeding: During the same time period, more than 197,000 crash-related deaths were caused by speeding.
- Distracted driving: According to the Public Health Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 78,000 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted driving. What's worse, the NHTSA reports that roughly 481,000 drivers use cellphones during daylight hours.
- Drowsy driving: Since 2005, more than 10,000 people have died in crashes caused by drowsy driving. That number, however, may actually be higher due to the lack of physical or traceable evidence.
Driving culture and human error are to blame
These crashes are completely preventable and are attributed to one thing: human error. The problem is, far too many people engage in this risky behavior without recognizing the consequences. Some have done so for many years without being involved in a crash.
"Unfortunately, our public option research has repeatedly shown that people still believe it will happen to someone else, but not to them," said Maureen Vogel of the National Safety Council.
Today's culture encourages the use of cellphones and other electronic devices more than ever. What we're capable of doing in the palm of our hands far exceeds making calls and sending texts.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), those who talk on cellphones while driving are four times more likely to cause a crash than those who don't. Moreover, those who text and drive behind the wheel are eight times more likely to cause a crash. Since 2013, the number of drivers who have admitted to using a cellphone behind the wheel jumped by 46 percent.
"While most recognize the dangers created by taking your eyes off the road, they engage in distracting behaviors anyway, creating a 'Do as I say, not as I do' culture on the roadway," said Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy for AAA.
Sadly, many responsible drivers are the ones who pay the price for the negligent actions of others. Lives are turned upside down. Others are lost completely. It can happen in the blink of an eye.
That's why the attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone fight tirelessly to hold negligent drivers accountable and help crash victims recover every penny they are entitled to. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash, contact our law office and schedule your free case evaluation.