Preliminary estimates of total fatal crashes for 2015 have been released, and the data shows a troubling increase in fatality rates and in the number of drivers who lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. In response to the higher accident rates, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging motorists to take the numbers as a "call to action."
So, how can drivers in Michigan respond to the call and help to make the roads safer over the course of 2016?
How Can You Help Reduce Crash Rates in 2016?
Driver error and unsafe driving actions are top causes of car accident deaths, so if motorists make a commitment to stopping some dangerous behaviors, they can help to reverse the trend towards higher crash rates which has begun in 2015. Drivers should:
- Have a designated driver or avoid driving. There were 9,967 people killed in 2014 in drunk driving crashes. Close to 1/3 of all fatal crashes could be prevented if drivers stopped drinking behind the wheel.
- Get plenty of rest and take rest breaks when driving. Almost three percent of nationwide fatal crashes involve fatigued drivers. Drowsy drivers have similar impairments to motorists who have drank above the legal limit of alcohol. Drowsy drivers have impaired cognitive function, lose focus, can fall asleep, and can drift out of their lane. Reaction times are also much slower when people are tired.
- Don't use electronic devices- even if they are hands free. Distraction is a growing reason for collisions, and around 10 percent of fatal car accidents in 2014 involved drivers who weren't paying careful attention to the road. Even hands-free or voice controlled electronic devices can serve as a cognitive distraction and can end up making a driver much less safe on the roads.
- Wear a seat belt. Almost half of all of the people who died in collisions did not have a safety belt buckled at the time of the fatal car accident. You can never control if another driver is going to do something unsafe and cause a crash, but you can minimize the risk of serious injuries if you are buckled up when the worst happens.
Making the commitment to follow these safety tips and other best practices for safety is very important. There were 32,675 people killed in 2014 car crashes and in 2015 there were 8.1 percent more deaths- so thousands more people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. The fatality rate in 2014 was also 1.07 per 100 million miles, but rose 4.4 percent in 2015, as compared with just a year prior. In Michigan alone during the first half of the year, there was an eight percent increase in car accident deaths from 2013 to 2015, according to National Safety Council.
You can make a difference in helping to stop these disturbing upward trends in car crashes- so make one of your New Years resolutions to become a safer driver in 2016.