Number of Traffic Fatalities Dropped in 2014, Are Likely to Be Up in 2015
Recent statistics from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the number of people who are dying in auto accidents reveal both good news and bad news. The good news is that the number of traffic fatalities in the year 2014 were down slightly from 2013. Unfortunately, that number is expected to be higher again in 2015.
The NHTSA’s numbers, which were released on November 24, cover only the first six months of the year. However, they show an alarming jump of 8.1% (16,225) in fatalities when compared to the same time frame in 2014, which saw the lowest number ever recorded since data was first collected in 1975.
For all of 2014, a total of 32,675 individuals died in motor vehicle accidents, with drunk driving fatalities accounting for just over 30% of those deaths. Speeding was determined to be a factor in more than 25% of the cases.
In 49% of the deaths, the individual wasn’t wearing a seat belt. To address that statistic, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a September report that pushed for back seat passengers to use their seat belts.
In that report, the GHSA indicated that traffic fatalities due to both prescription and illegal drug abuse had jumped from 29% in 2005 to nearly 40% in 2013. Two of the key factors for this increase were given as the legalization of marijuana in multiple states as well as a surge in the use of prescription drugs that’s quintupled since 1999.
While the number of bicyclists dying declined by 2.3% nationally, the number of deaths in the 31 states without effective helmet enforcement was much higher. In 2014, 1,565 people died in this manner, with an NHTSA spokesman saying that 700 of those deaths could be prevented each year by instituting mandatory helmet laws.
Pedestrians continue to remain vulnerable in these accidents as well, with 4,884 killed during 2014, an increase of 3.1% from 2013.
One reason why pedestrians continue to remain at risk is the issue of distracted driving, which led to the death of 3,179 individuals in 2014. While a number of different factors are related to this aspect, the continuing issue of cellphone use while driving remains a central component, with texting also factored into this area. At present, only 14 states ban a driver’s use of a hand-held cellphone.
Two of the possible reasons given for the troubling surge in the overall increase in deaths were noted by the NHTSA These include lower gas prices, which has led to increased leisure driving, and an increase in the number of jobs, which requires individuals to travel back and forth on a regular basis.
In an effort to more fully address the issue of human error behind the wheel, which is a factor in 94% of these crashes, the NHTSA indicated that they would hold regional meetings during February and March in five cities: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Sacramento.
These numbers are derived from a variety of sources, including police accident reports.