Road safety officials are reporting that traffic deaths increased by nearly eight percent (8%) in 2015 – ending a lengthy period of decline in such numbers. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that about 35,200 people lost their lives in traffic collisions in 2015. All of these troubling facts were recently noted in Nathan Bomey’s USA Today article published on July 1, 2016.
Many safety experts are puzzled by what may be causing this new trend. Fatalities haven’t been this high since 2008. Back then, roughly 37,000 people died on our nation’s roads.
While some people blame the increase on distracted driving (often caused by the selfish use of cell phones while behind the wheel) – others believe that lower gasoline prices have simply encouraged more of us to get out and drive. Regardless of what the main causes are, we should all do what we can to protect ourselves by developing defensive driving skills.
Here’s a quick look at whether self-driving cars are likely to improve vehicle safety in the future and at the groups of individuals currently causing the largest percentage of America’s accidents.
Are Self-Driving Cars the Answer?
In the USA Today article referenced above, we’re told that some authorities now claim that self-driving cars may help to greatly reduce accidents in this country in the future. However, recent reports concerning one Tesla Model S driver’s death are causing some to revisit that prediction.
You may want to watch some instructional videos about self-driving vehicles posted on automakers’ websites (or YouTube) so you can draw your conclusions on that topic. Everything will probably depend on how well the average driver will be able to master the art of using technologies like Autopilot. Given how distracted many drivers already are – you have to wonder how many people will remember to make all of the repeated adjustments to their steering wheel turn signal levers to use properly all of the new car technologies being developed.
Who Keeps Causing the Most Accidents?
Men still caused more accidents than women. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Highway Loss Data Institute), men continue to cause more accidents than women. While men do still drive far more miles than women, the fact remains that men do tend to take greater risks regularly while driving than women;
Older drivers do not necessarily cause a higher percentage of accidents. In fact, they simply are more susceptible to injuries since many are in more fragile health. However, drivers age 85 and older do tend to experience the highest number of accidents, as opposed to those between ages 60 and 85;
Teenagers cause a greater number of collisions than others – especially those age 16 and 17. Changing more states laws to limit more teen drivers to daytime driving might help, as well as raising the minimum age for driving alone;
Drunk drivers and those impaired by many drugs remain a serious threat to others. Although the number of traffic fatalities caused by drunk drivers did decline for a while back during the mid-1990s, that trend has ended. More progress must now be made in keeping drunk and drug-impaired drivers off the roads in every state;
Drivers in certain parts of the country. While Texas is among the states that often have higher fatalities in terms of deaths per 100,000 in population, a number of less obvious factors can play a role in such statistics. For example, some states have more long stretches of highway in between cities, while others have more truckers regularly crisscrossing their state. The strict enforcement of drunk driving laws can also play a major role in these types of statistics.
All Houston drivers can increase their personal safety on the roads by (1) taking a defensive driving course; (2) never driving while impaired in any manner; (3) only driving during the day; and (4) never using a cell phone while behind the wheel of any car or truck.