At the end of this August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released it 2015 traffic fatality data. It showed 35,092 deaths. This is a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. Sadly, these rates ended a 5 decade trend of decline in traffic fatalities in the U.S., according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).
In response to this alarming trend, DOT, NHTSA, and the White House issued an “unprecedented call to action” to help determine the potential causes of this increase. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you want to contribute to this conversation these departments want to hear from you. The White House Staff has posed some possible questions to explore why this increase occurred, including:
- Whether improving economic conditions in the U.S. has changed how we get around?
- Whether climate change increases the risk of fatal crashes?
- How can we use studies on attitudes toward speeding, distracted driving, and seat belt use to better target and marketing toward behavioral changes in these actions?
- What countermeasures can we create to address risky behaviors and particularly to communities and groups prone to such behaviors?
The Department of Transportation from this data noted these alarming trends from last year:
- Pedestrian and pedal-cyclist fatalities increased to a level not seen in 20 years.
- Motorcyclist deaths increased over 8 percent.
- NHTSA also noted human factors continued to contribute to the majority of crashes.
- Almost half of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.
- Research shows almost one in three fatalities involved drunk drivers or speeding.
- One in 10 fatalities involved distraction.
I too have noticed some of these trends, as I continued to write about the rise of motorcycle deaths in Colorado, a 10 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in Colorado, and that Coloradans have a lower seat belt usage than other parts of the nation. This is a serious problem we now face, and the request from the Department of Transportation, NHTSA, and the White House is a great way for us to continue this conversation, and hopefully make changes in our driving behaviors. I see every day how difficult it is for people to recover after a car crash. Let’s work to prevent these serious incidents on our nation’s roads.
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