U.S. Lags Behind Rest of World in Reducing Highway Deaths
November 21, 2017
While the United States can boast impressive progress in many areas, highway safety is not among them. In fact, while the rest of the world has been working to reduce traffic fatalities over the past few decades, with considerable success, the United States has fallen significantly behind. Our vehicle fatality rate is about 40 percent higher than the rate in Canada and Australia, according to the New York Times. That figure becomes more disturbing when coupled with the fact that U.S. traffic deaths in 1990 were about 10% lower than those in both of the above countries.
More people die in car crashes each year in the United States than in other high-income countries, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which called the situation a “serious public health problem.” Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death for Americans aged 1–54 years. More than 2 million nonfatal injuries and 32,000 deaths occur each year, higher than the number of people who are killed by guns.
Researchers Juha Luoma and Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found the main culprits among U.S. drivers are alcohol-impaired driving, exceeding posted speed limits and a failure to wear seat belts. The research showed that 15%, or one in seven U.S. drivers, do not wear seat belts despite the fact that some type of mandatory seat belt laws exist in every state but one (New Hampshire)*.
Other factors included a greater number of younger drivers in the U.S. While the minimum age requirement for a driver’s license in the U.S. is 16, it is 18 in Sweden and the Netherlands, and 17 in the U.K. In addition, researchers found Americans drive more frequently and cover greater distances than drivers in other countries. Americans also depend more heavily on personal vehicles and less on carpooling and public transportation.
Now that we are aware of these issues, what can we do to make U.S. roads safer? Experts have a variety of suggestions that include lower speed limits, more cameras and stricter penalties for those caught speeding; lower legal limits for blood alcohol levels and more diligent enforcement of seat belt laws.
“Until the laws change or driverless vehicles become more prevalent, private citizens who drive motor vehicles on a regular basis have to become more careful,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “We can buckle up our seat belts, put our phones away, obey the posted speed limit, and call a friend or an Uber if we’ve had one too many drinks.”
Despite the utmost precautions, accidents happen. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motor vehicle crash, call us immediately. We have the expertise and experience to evaluate your case and help you obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free and confidential consultation.
* In some states, including Michigan, a driver can be pulled over and ticketed for driving without a seat belt; in other states, a driver has to be pulled over for another reason in order for a seatbelt-related ticket to be issued.