Driving is a dangerous activity. That is why drivers are required to be licensed and insured. While this may lessen some of the dangers, the reality is that 76,000 individuals were injured, and 4,700 pedestrians were killed in auto-related accidents in 2012, and that is just in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that two of three motorists will be involved in an auto accident with injuries during their lifetime.
Statistics to Understand
The cost of auto-related accidents is large. The National Council on Compensation Insurance cited that auto injuries accounted for one of the largest sectors of workers’ compensation claims. This averaged $78,466 per claim filed in 2017 and 2018. Other claims they cited were burns *$49,521) and falls and slips ($47,516). With statistics this high, the dangerous conditions around driving need to be considered. There are several reasons why the numbers are so high.
While initially, drivers are required to pass a written and driving test to be issued a license, many of those same individuals would not be able to pass that same test several years later. As the test materials cover road rules and regulations, forgetting these core items can lead to dangerous situations. That is why adult drivers are often sent to or encouraged to take a defensive driving course.
Speed Causes Accidents
Almost a third of accidents involve excessive speed as a contributor to the accident. This doesn’t simply mean staying within the speed limit, it means paying attention to the road and weather conditions and adjusting the vehicle’s speed appropriately. Rain, sleet and snow can reduce visibility and inhibit traction. It also makes it more difficult to see pedestrians.
New drivers, including teens, have the highest accident rate. This is why they carry higher insurance premiums and are often required to initially drive with a more experienced driver. Most accidents will occur within the first year of driving.
Increase in Pedestrian Traffic
Auto accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists have increased in recent years. This has led to an increase of 30% of pedestrians involved in auto accidents. Additionally, the increase in quiet electric or hybrid vehicles means that pedestrians are less likely to be alerted to road hazards.
Poor Weather Conditions
Hazardous weather conditions contribute to a large number of auto accidents. Wet, slick roads, combined with speed, create a situation where it takes 10 times longer than normal to stop a vehicle. This causes many accidents each year in the United States.
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
In the US, an estimated 60% of auto accidents with fatalities are the result of aggressive driving. Young male drivers are the most at risk. Avoiding forceful or hostile drivers can help avoid an accident.
Approximately two million people sustain permanent injuries from traffic accidents in the US each year. This means that they will never fully recover from their injuries. While the Labor Department in 2020 reported that 17.9% of those with disabilities were employed, this is still a frightening statistic. This is compared to 61.8% of non-disabled people who are not employed. Clearly, taking strategic steps to protect yourself on the road is very important.
While these causal factors that lead to traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities give us all cause to think about safety when we are driving, improvements are being made by auto manufacturers to improve the safety functions of vehicles. Also, the increase in the use of public transportation options, walking, and cycling can lower emissions and accident figures. Understanding that driving in the US is dangerous and factors to watch for will help keep you safe on the road. If you are a parent, work with your teen driver, so they understand the dangers and develop the skills necessary to avoid common road situations. Taking these steps will keep everyone on the road safer.