Increased Accidents and Fatalities Are Partially Due to a Better Economy
In the last year, road accidents and fatalities have increased drastically by 14%. This uptick has led journalists and pundits alike to discuss what they believe the cause is for this current rise. There are those of the older generation that would have you believe this is mainly down to young drivers texting. Although, more reasoned approaches seem to show a direct correlation in the economy bouncing back, which has more people back driving to and from work. For years, the NHTSA and other non-governmental forces preached the decline of traffic accidents and fatalities, when in reality, the number of each stayed stagnant for almost a decade. Now, with the economy finally starting to return to pre-recession levels, these same people are highlighting a statistic that’s essentially coming back to the same level it was for quite some time. RELATED: Death Tolls Are Rising in the US
In 2013 and 2014, roughly 32,000 motor vehicle deaths were reported. This number includes cars, trucks, semi’s, and motorcycles. However, the National Safety Council has projected that this year, the U.S. will see over 40,000 deaths across the country. This marked a drastic uptick versus the previous seven years, which saw a small decline to around 30,000 deaths. However, if you look back further to pre-recession accidents from 1994-2007, these all stayed static around that 40,000 mark.
Given that for over a decade, crashes and fatalities remained the same before the real onset of texting, this argument becomes moot. Rather, the main issue seems to be the economy returning to normal, and the labor force returning to work. With more people on the road, more accidents are likely to occur.
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Since automakers began building safer cars, and implementing increased safety systems, accidents have been on a steady decline. That said, those numbers plateaued around the early 1990s all the way up to the mid-2000s. Given that fact, further safety systems are needed to once again begin to decrease the number of accidents and fatalities. Safety systems like lane-departure, automatic braking, and other such systems are invaluable to car buyers and drivers everywhere. However, we can’t stop there.
Our infrastructure is at an all time low in terms of maintenance and decay. Bridges, highways, and roads are crumbling thanks to states engineering roads on the cheap, and Congress refusing to take the issue seriously. With over 220 million people using the roads each day, it takes a toll, and without proper maintenance, increases in traffic accidents and fatalities are likely to increase more than they are now.
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These safety issues also have a real financial toll on the consumer as well. Just as the number of accidents and fatalities decreased when the market went south, so did insurance rates. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, these rates began to decline a little before the recession around 2005, and stayed relatively low until 2011. Since 2011, rates have been progressively going up, with last year being the most expensive in 12 years.
Additionally, according to NPR’s Marketplace, both Geico and Allstate have already approved rate increases to the company’s already high rates for the near future. We’re sure that most, if not all, other insurance companies will follow suit and increase rates as well.
As roads become busier and more congested, accidents will go up, and rates will continue to increase. There needs to be a new push in both automotive safety, and infrastructure renewal, only then will we see another drastic decrease in accidents and fatalities as we saw when automakers first began to increase cars safety technology.