You see it in the daily news, traffic accidents that cause significant bodily injuries or fatalities across the United States. The US is the 12th most dangerous country in the world to drive in. What is it that makes the roads in the US so dangerous?
The Number of Drivers on the Road
Unlike many countries, the US’s public transportation systems are minimal. The infrastructure also has a huge impact. People often have commute times that can exceed an hour of driving time one-way. There are so many drivers on the road daily that need to be accounted for. Statistically speaking, the more drivers, the higher the risk is that you will be involved in an accident of some type during your lifetime. For example, in large cities such as St. Louis County, MO there were 32,012 traffic crashes in 2019 alone.
US drivers typically begin driving from the time they turn 16. Over time, they can become careless or even unqualified to drive despite having a driver’s license. Careless driving can include ignoring road signs, weather conditions, speed limits, and improper lane usage. One of the largest causes of accidents is speed. This doesn’t necessarily mean going over the speed limit, but also not taking into account the proper speed that should be observed due to weather conditions. Just because the speed limit is 45, icy roads should be taken at much slower rates to prevent accidents. Weather conditions are not the only dangerous factors when it comes to speed. Areas that are highly populated with people or wildlife can be dangerous, as you might have something or someone step out in front of your car with no warning,
High Fatality Rates
In 2018 there were a total of 36,560 traffic fatalities across the US, while the number was less than the number of traffic fatalities in 2017, 37,473. The number is still staggering. Fatality rates in traffic accidents predictably surge when we see lower gas prices and unemployment rates. Both of these factors combined have more drivers on the road and increase the likelihood of traffic fatalities.
The infrastructure of the US has a huge impact on the rise in fatalities. The structure of cities and outlying communities sets us apart from more compact cities. Those cities have the benefit of shorter commutes and less of a need for a car, as there are other modes of transportation. Reducing fatalities on US roads would require a serious infrastructural overhaul, one which the country has not been able to properly address
A Lack of Resources in the Event of a Crash
For many people involved in an accident, that is just the beginning. In 2018, the percentage of people who had health insurance coverage was 91.5 percent. This number is lower than the rate in 2017, which was 92.1 percent. The low rates of health insurance combined with a low rate of people that have drivers’ insurance can drastically impact the health of a person involved in an accident. For someone who is struggling financially without insurance, an accident can have long-lasting effects that affect their health and even employment.
While there are great options out there for guaranteed renewable auto insurance, there are still many people driving without it.
Crime Has a Big Impact
It isn’t just the driving conditions that make the US a dangerous place to drive, but also the high crime rates. There are many instances of road rage in which an aggravated driver harms another by erratic driving or using weapons and violence. Some states list a staggering statistic of 60% of traffic-related fatalities being due to road rage.
Additionally, the US has a high rate of motor vehicle theft. This sees one vehicle theft being reported every 41 seconds. The danger is not only the loss of property but oftentimes those fleeing the scene after stealing a vehicle cause fatal crashes for those on the roads around them or themselves.