Michigan Traffic Fatalities Rose in 2015
The Michigan State Police has recently released some information about the number of traffic accidents that happened in the state last year and unfortunately, the news isn’t good. While the total number of traffic crashes actually dropped slightly in 2015, the total numbers of injuries and fatalities were both up from 2014. Fatal accidents rose 10% in 2015, making it the year with the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2008.
2015 proved to be a very dangerous year for bicyclists and motorcyclists. Out of all the categories of accidents included in this report, accidents involving bicyclists had the largest increase in fatalities, rising 57% from 2014. The number of traffic fatalities involving motorcycles went up 29% in 2015.
In April 2012, Michigan changed the law regarding helmet usage for motorcyclists, giving riders who are at least 20 years old the option to legally ride without a helmet if they purchase additional insurance. After the law was changed, there was a very predictable increase in the number of people who were either killed or seriously injured in motorcycle accidents. However, in 2015, the number of motorcyclists killed in traffic accidents didn’t just increase among unhelmeted riders, they also rose among those who were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.
Accidents involving alcohol continue to be a deadly problem for Michigan drivers. Over the course of 2015, the number of traffic fatalities involving alcohol went up 28%. The Michigan chapter of MADD is hoping that recent statistics regarding the use of ignition interlocks will help persuade lawmakers to make them more widespread. Currently, Michigan judges can order ignition interlocks to be installed in the vehicles of repeat drunk driving offenders who had a BAC of 0.17 or higher. In February, MADD reported that ignition interlock devices prevented cars from being started by a drunk driver 86,393 times since October of 2010. MADD would like to see judges have the option to order an ignition interlock device during the during the license suspension period for all drunk driving offenders.
Have a hard time putting your phone down while you drive? If so, the number of accidents from last year may make you want to break that habit. In 2015, there were over 700 car accidents caused by a driver using a cell phone, a 13% increase from the previous year.
While these numbers are alarming, driver behavior is just one of many factors that can have an impact on the rate of traffic fatalities. Everything from the weather and to the economy and the price of gas can also have an influence. For example, if gas prices are exceptionally high, the number of fatalities involving bicyclists may go up since people may be more inclined to ride their bikes instead of drive their car. Or fatality rates could increase amongst all types of motorists if gas prices are low and the weather is generally pretty mild since people are more likely to be out and about.