According to the National Safety Council (NSC), and multiple car accident attorneys, auto accidents are one of the top two primary causes of injury-related death in Americans’ lifetimes. Car crashes are also the top cause of employee death while on-the-job. To clarify how stark these statistics really are, the NSC reported that this means more U.S. soldiers are killed in auto accidents each year than all other Army casualties of war, combined.
Since 1994, each year results in somewhere between 32,800 and 43,500 deaths from auto accidents on American roads. This is almost 750,000 people lost since 1994.
People fear flying, but few realize that in order for flying-related deaths to match the number of deaths caused by automobiles annually, a 100 passenger jet would have to crash every single day of the year.
This statistic only reflects deaths and does not include the immense number of injuries occurring on the road each year. Many of those injuries are severe and life-changing. Over 2.2 million people were injured in car accidents in 2010, alone.
Unsafe Driving Behaviors Known as “Distracted Driving”
The NSC reports that, of all 2010 auto accidents, 21 percent were caused by people talking on their cell phones. At least three percent of crashes are blamed on texting while driving. Distracted driving is now as much a cause of accidents as drunk driving and speeding.
As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nine percent of drivers at any given moment of the day are using their cell phones while behind the wheel. Over 75 percent of study respondents reported using their cell phone while driving in the past 30 days, along with 33 percent admitting this is a common practice for them.
Beyond smartphone and other device use while behind the wheel, 87 percent of drivers admit to other distracted driving behaviors. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports three of the most common distractions for drivers today. Those are:
- Lack of sleep
- Substances such as drugs and alcohol
AAA categorizes unsafe behaviors behind the wheel as six primary types:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Seat belt use
- Drowsy driving
- Red light running
Deliberate Unsafe Driving Is Often the Cause of Accidents
Despite knowing distracted driving and other forms of unsafe vehicle operation can cause accidents, most drivers still take everyday risks. The NHTSA study provided insights from 2500 drivers, most of whom believe distracted driving is a growing problem. But more than 40 percent of those drivers admit they still read texts or emails while operating their car, having done so in the prior 30 days.
Crane said, “Millions of people suffer injuries every single year because individuals can’t wait until they’re not driving to read a text message. This is why distracted driving is a cause in the majority of auto accidents.”
Despite recent and ongoing focus on distracted driving, impaired driving is still prevalent, too. More than one of every eight drivers admit to driving despite knowing their blood alcohol level was likely at or above the legal limit. Alcohol impairment causes accidents costing United States taxpayers more than $50 billion annually.
According to the National Safety Council, almost every driver on the road has an inflated view of their own ability to multitask and perform while behind the wheel. In essence, the NSC reports that almost all drivers believe their own risk of auto accident is lower than the risk of other drivers.
Making this egotistical viewpoint behind the wheel even more dangerous, the NSC states that even when people are educated about and aware of risks, they will not be easily persuaded to change their behaviors to mitigate the risk. This is true for impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, inexperienced driver vehicle operation, safety belt use and child safety seat use.
The accident attorneys are always hopeful that research will prove more impactful in the persuasion of drivers to reduce unsafe driving behaviors. Fewer risks taken equal fewer accidents, injuries and death on the road.