U.S. Has the Highest Rate of Auto Related Fatalities Among High Income Countries

A recent news release from the National Safety Council, shows that the United States has the highest rate of motor vehicle deaths among 19 high-income countries, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  According to the CDC, more than 32,000 people are killed and 2 million are injured each year from motor vehicle crashes. Accordingly, it works out that about 90 people die each day in the U.S. from auto crashes. This results in us having the highest death rate in comparison to other countries. Those countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.Rates of crash fatalities

These U.S. traffic fatalities cost more than $380 million in direct medical costs.

Causes of Traffic Fatalities

According to the CDC, 1 in 3 crash deaths in the U.S. involves a drunk driver, and almost 1 in 3 involves speeding. The major risk factors for crash related deaths in the U.S. are:

  • Not using seat belts, car seats, or booster seats. The lack of use contributed to over 9,500 crash deaths in 2013.
  • Drunk driving, which contributed to more than 10,000 crash deaths in 2013.
  • Speeding, this contributed to more than 9,500 crash deaths in 2013.

To think, such simple actions or changes in behaviors can decrease the number of car crash deaths in our country. We are humans, we are not invincible and we should protect ourselves from potentially life threatening situations like a crash.

What Can You Do?

There are ways to reduce the chances of a car crash related death. The easiest way is buckling up. Did you know that seat belts saved over 12,500 lives in the U.S. in 2013? Yet, the U.S. has a lower than average front and back seat belt use compared with other high-income countries, according to the CDC.

Ways you can prevent a car crash related fatality include:

  • Using a seat belt in every seat, on every trip, no matter how short (even going down the street).
  • Making sure children are always properly buckled in the back seat in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight.
  • Not driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and helping others do the same, such as by being a designated driver.
  • Always obeying speed limits.
  • Driving distraction free (such as not using a cell phone or texting).

Why are the Other Countries’ Rates Better?

The CDC has provided some reasoning as to why the other countries are better performing when it comes to lower traffic fatalities. Reasoning includes:

  • Primary enforcement of seat belt laws;
  • Lower BAC levels;
  • Ignition interlocks for all people convicted of drunk driving;
  • Automated enforcement through the use of speed and red light cameras;
  • Improvements in vehicle safety and transportation infrastructure;
  • More use of publicized sobriety checkpoints; and
  • Maintaining and enforcing the minimum legal drinking age.

Interestingly, France has the highest front seat belt use with 99 percent; the U.S. is only at 87 percent.

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