Despite the development of safety technology designed to reduce the rate of traffic accidents, the National Safety Council estimated that more than 40,000 people were killed in car crashes in 2016, which would be a six percent increase from 2015.
That is sobering news considering that more than 35,000 people died in 2015, which was a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. This upward trend has several contributing factors, which are tied in part to strong economic indicators.
How Vehicle Miles Traveled Impact Traffic Accidents
Although car accident deaths always have a number of causations, including driver distraction, speeding and impaired driving, the fact is that the greater the number of vehicles on the road, the more likely it is that accidents will occur.
And as the U.S. economy has improved, this has provided citizens with more incentive to get on the road to take vacations, and to drive to new jobs that have been created in this boom period.
In fact, the Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHWA) reported that the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the U.S. in 2016 exceeded 3.2 trillion miles, the highest VMT figure since this statistic was first tracked.
Even more concerning was that the FHWA also reported that this was the fifth consecutive year in which VMT had increased, and is 87.5 billion miles more than were traveled in 2015.
Not surprisingly, July and August were the months in which Americans took to the road the most, which corresponds to prime summer vacation time in which millions of families take road trips to popular destinations.
As just one example, Florida had a VMT of 206,982 in 2015, and there were 2,699 fatal traffic accidents that same year, resulting in 2,939 fatalities. That amounted to a whopping 14.5 deaths per 100,000 population and a staggering death rate of 1.42 per 100 million VMT – large enough to rank the state in the top three for that statistic.
In larger states – such as California, Texas and New York – the larger the VMT, the larger the car accident fatalities and deaths per 100 million VMT.
Increase in Commercial Trucks On the Road Lead to More Traffic Accidents
And the good economic news in the U.S. over the past few years has also had a direct effect on the number of commercial trucks on the road.
In California, truck accidents are on the rise due in large part to the shipping route between Los Angeles and Long Beach (the busiest port in the U.S.). Commercial trucks rumble down the highways in Southern California to the tune of eight million miles each day.
According to a professor of Urban Planning, the Southern California economy has grown over the past five years, increasing trade and triggering the presence of more large commercial trucks on the road.
And once those trucks are on the road, they have to share traffic lanes with smaller vehicles on highways that are among the most congested in the world.
One small driver error (80 percent or more of truck wrecks are caused by human error) can result in devastation that involves multiple vehicles, serious injuries and sometimes even death.
So although a robust economy is welcome, drivers must be aware that this also brings congestion that complicates the daily challenges of driving safely in the U.S., and ultimately increases the chances for traffic accidents to occur.
A Firm You Can Trust after Traffic Accidents
After you suffer serious injuries in a traffic accident, you must hire a firm that has experience with these claims. At Miller Weber Kory LLP, we have the resources necessary to handle all aspects of your case with compassion and a desire to provide financial and emotional security. Please contact us at 602-648-4045 for a free legal consultation.