Fatal car accident statistics used to portray our highways as a dangerous and treacherous battle ground. In the 1960s and 1970s, fatal car accidents were occurring at a rate of 40,000 to 50,000 every single year. It wasn’t until the 1990s that fatal accident statistics dropped into the low 40,000s every year, and by 2008 it dropped below 40,000. And the rates remained consistently below that threshold–until the last several years, that is.
The mid-90s to mid-twenty-tens was heralded as a sort of “golden age” for road safety, one that wouldn’t stop given the amazing technological advancements in motor vehicle safety. However, that belief may have been incorrect.
The “golden age” may still be around to a certain degree, but the last two years of observable data for fatal car accidents show that the safety revolution is faltering.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the modern-day low for motor vehicle accident fatalities was in 2011 when 32,479 people died. From 2009 to 2014, the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities stayed very close to this number. But then in 2015, the number suddenly spiked: increasing by 10.5 percent up to 35,485 fatalities. It went up again in 2016 by 5.6 percent, with 37,461 deaths in motor vehicle accidents. That’s the highest number of motor vehicle deaths in a year since 2007.
Has something gone wrong out on the roads? Are our vehicles actually less safe because they have so many bells and whistles to fidget with while driving? Are drivers less attentive on the road, more concerned about texting or tweeting? There could be many reasons why roadway fatalities are on the rise once again. What remains constant, however, is that victims of motor vehicle accidents need to consider their legal position after being involved in an unfortunate wreck on our roads and highways.