Fatalities on US Roads Remain High

A variety of factors exist.

Source : Unsplash

May 1, 2024

Author : Alex Bustillos

Do you know how many road rage fatalities occurred in 2023 in the US? 44,000! 

Yes, let that sink in! 

While this number might be 4% less than the previous year, it is almost a 13.6% increase since the pre-COVID era. A finding by the National Safety Council that there was a 10% increase in accidents between 2022 and 2023 in seven states: the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, North Dakota, Maryland, and Kentucky.

Among the 12 states that saw a decrease in the number of accidents are Alaska, Maine, Hawaii, Utah, New York, and New Jersey, among others.

Vehicular crashes reduced significantly since the early years of automobiles till 2010 because of better roads and car safety. But things have taken a dramatic turn since then, and while in most developed nations, vehicular deaths have reduced, it has increased alarmingly in the US.

So, what is making American roads so unsafe for pedestrians and motorists?

To begin with, Americans are often found to be more car-centric, than our global counterparts or even our most immediate neighbor Canada. About 63% of people drive for a distance that is even less than a mile. When you are more frequently on the road, the chances of an accident increase as well!

Another reason for the growing incidence of accidents is the size of vehicles. Larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks are fatal to pedestrians than a standard-sized car. Pedestrians, when hit by a car that is 40 inches or higher, will suffer more fatal injury to the torso and head.

Other countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have also seen growing acceptance of larger vehicles, but the number of accidents hasn’t increased proportionally, as in the USA.

So, what’s the issue?

Homelessness can be one risk factor.

But the biggest issue that is making American roads so unsafe is the American drivers!

Research from Cambridge Mobile Telematics has shown that using smartphones while at the wheel is the biggest cause. US cars are becoming increasingly hands-free, or so the driver believes, thanks to automatic transmission, making them more distracted with other actions.

Americans are also less prone to wearing seatbelts, and drunk driving is also pretty common.

Another issue is the road conditions. Many roads lack sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes. Poor road quality, filled with potholes, makes driving more dangerous.

To address these issues, the NSC has urged for the adoption of national, state, and local level policies that are based on the Sage System Approach. The Safe System Approach, also known as Vision Zero, was introduced in Sweden in 1990. The aim is to create multiple layers of protection. 

Government agencies, pedestrians, and motorists should all collectively work together to avoid such mishaps.

Category : Freeways and Highways

Related Article