The National Safety Council (nfc.org) released preliminary estimates on traffic fatalities for 2016 and they show a 9% rise in deaths for the first half of 2016 and an 18% rise from 2 years ago. The total number of deaths was estimated at 19,100 just since January of this year.
The numbers in Arkansas were even worse than the national averages. 263 people lost their lives so far this year, an 11% increase over the same period of time last year and 24% higher than the same period in 2014. Texas had the highest number of fatalities in the nation and also saw an 11% increase, with 1,824 fatalities compared to 1,643 a year ago.
“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”
Based on this figurs, the National Safety Council is estimating 438 people will die in motor vehicle collisions this Labor Day weekend, making it the deadliest in 8 years.
I have seen some news reports suggest the increase is a result of lower fuel costs and improving economy, however the number of miles driven has only increased 3.3% this year. Complacency is probably one factor, but I also suspect increased smart phone usage plays a large role, especially texting and playing games on your phone. There have been a number of safety innovations that should be creating a downward trend in motor vehicle deaths but they are apparently more than offset by other factors endangering public safety.
Labor Day Driving Safety for Long Road Trips
More than 40 percent of drivers say they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel, and about one in ten admitted doing so during the past year, according to a study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and educational organization. One in every six deadly car crashes results from a fatigue-impaired driver, estimates the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s compared to about one in three caused by a drunk driver. “Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time, and impairs judgment, just like drugs or alcohol,” said AAA Foundation President Peter Kissinger.
If you are traveling with your family for the holidays, make sure you get sufficient rest prior to the trip. Even shorter trips of 2 to 4 hours can be deadly if you are not rested. Just as importantly, drive defensively and be watchful of other drivers who may be fatigued. Tractor-trailers present a greater danger when their drivers are fatigued and many of them are also trying to get home for the holidays after a long haul and tempted to drive longer than is safe.
Keep a close lookout for tractor-trailers and be aware that fatigued tractor-trailer drivers will react more slowly to dangers and are more slow to recognize dangers. Avoid their blind spots. If passing a tractor-trailer, be careful not to linger in their blind spot more than necessary. The blind spot is the point where your car becomes invisible to his mirrors. Tractor-trailers often have larger blind spots than automobiles. If you look at his rear view mirrors and can’t see the driver’s face, you could be in the blind spot.
Please be careful on the roads, especially this Labor Day weekend. Never drive drowsy, use safety belts and keep your speed down.