Americans spend a lot of time in their cars. In fact, according to AAA, American drivers spend an average of more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year. Jurek Grabowski, the research director at AAA, points out that this is equivalent to seven 40-hour weeks in the office. With all that time spent on the roads each year, it’s important that every effort is made to ensure safety for America’s drivers.
It’s for this reason that we’re always seeing new safety technologies introduced in cars. Rear-facing and side cameras, automatic braking technology which can detect and impending collision and apply the brakes, and lane departure warning systems are all examples of cutting-edge technology designed to save lives on the road. Additionally, each year new laws and regulations, from distracted driving laws to expanded DUI laws, are introduced all over the country with the aim of making everyone safer. Despite all of these advances, some reports show that traffic deaths are actually increasing. In this blog, we’ll discuss the impact of these technological advances and laws on the safety of American roads.
Are Our Roads Getting More Dangerous?
Last February, the National Safety Council released traffic fatality estimates which showed that, in 2016, 40,200 people died in motor vehicle accidents which is a 6 percent increase from the previous year. This would be the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in a single year. To add further context, the 2016 total comes after a rise of 7 percent in 2015. The two-year increase of 14 percent is the largest in more than half a century.
What’s the Explanation for This?
There are several possible reasons for the increase in traffic fatalities. Part of the problem stems from the improving economy which both forces and allows people to drive more. Safety advocates point out that the number of deaths as a percentage of miles driven is also increasing, so the economy can’t be totally to blame. It would seem that the roads are truly getting more dangerous. This leads us to the second possible reason for the increase.
The second possible reason that American roads seem to be getting more dangerous is distracted driving. Distracted driving, which we’ve discussed on this blog before, can be defined as any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving. This includes texting or talking on a cellphone while driving, using navigation apps, eating, changing the radio station, applying make-up, and much more. Distracted driving seems to be increasing, especially with millennials on the road.
What Can Be Done to Make Roads Safer?
To address the problem of distracted driving, several groups are developing innovative solutions. In Oregon and around the country, lawmakers are introducing laws which penalize drivers caught engaging in dangerous behaviors, especially texting or talking on their phones. Technology companies and software developers are introducing new features and parental controls designed to prevent distracted driving. Parents are educating their children about the dangers of this risky behavior. Car manufacturers are offering more and more hands-free features in their cars to enable to change the song, answer a call, or compose a text without ever taking their hands off the wheel.
It’s important to note, however, that these activities still qualify as distractions which are best avoided wherever possible. Hopefully, as these solutions become more widespread, we’ll see a substantial decrease in traffic fatalities on American roads.
If you’ve been involved in an accident in Oregon with a driver you believe was distracted, don’t hesitate. Contact the experienced auto accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield today for a free consultation. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and represent your case in court, if need be.