In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced an increase in the number of people who lost their lives in motor vehicle collisions as compared to the prior year. A total of 30,800 people died, which means that the death rate was 1.13 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. When sharing the news, the NHTSA indicated that this was one of the first increases in annual traffic fatalities over the past several decades and that the number of deadly motor vehicle collisions were still at historic lows.
While the U.S. authorities are quick to discuss how much improvement has been made in terms of reducing traffic deaths each year, a personal injury lawyer knows that the data that is shared does not always tell the whole story. For example, while the United States has had a 41 percent reduction in the number of traffic fatalities compared with record highs in 1972, other countries have had a decline in their death rate of more than twice that amount.
Why is the U.S. Faring Poorly on Reducing Deaths?
In the Netherlands and in Germany, an 81 percent decline in the number of annual traffic accident fatalities has occurred since the 1970's. Great Britain experienced an 81 percent decline in traffic-related deaths over this period of time. A total of 25 other countries were able to reduce their annual traffic deaths by a greater percentage than the United States.
USA Today recently suggested one possible reason why other countries have been able to do so much better in cutting their traffic accident deaths: these other countries have focused on changing driver behavior to reduce collisions while the U.S. has focused on improving technology. In fact, regulators have set requirements for car makers to continually improve safety features and car makers are pressured by Consumer Reports and other ratings to regularly make their vehicles as safe as possible. These safety features are all designed to either reduce the chances that human errors will cause crashes or to reduce the potential harm to the body that happens when a crash occurs.
On the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for example, recent news bulletins discuss improvements in air bag technology; a new proposed rule for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and new information on car seat safety features. While a few of the articles focus in things like bike safety tips, it is clear that the NHTSA is largely relying on technological advances to make streets safer.
Unfortunately, as the recent GM recalls have demonstrated, technology is imperfect and technology can fail. The ultimate responsibility for preventing accidents must rest with drivers, who need to ensure that they are doing everything possible to be safe and avoid accidents. Other countries have passed tougher distracted driving laws and have more widespread use of radar detection and red light cameras to deter bad behavior. If we embraced these practices and made stronger efforts to encourage drivers to be safer, as many as 20,000 fewer traffic accident deaths could occur each year in the United States.
A Detroit accident lawyer can help victims in the city and surrounding suburbs including Warren and Sterling Heights. Contact Fraser & Souweidane P.C. at (866) 465-9095 or visit https://www.fsattorneys.com to schedule a free consultation.