Anywhere you drive today, your risk of becoming involved in a fatal car crash is as much as 14 percent greater than what it was three years ago. As NPR reports, there was a notable rise in car crash fatalities from 2014 to 2016. This increase in the number of car crash fatalities is the largest in 50 years.
Just between 2015 and 2016, there was a six percent uptick in car crash fatalities. More than 40,000 people died in traffic collisions in 2016, which was the highest number of car accident deaths in the United States since 2007, before the great recession. Drivers need to be aware of this increase in car accident fatality risks and must take steps to try to stay safe.
One of the most important things for drivers to be aware of is why crash rates are going up so much. Many of the causes of rising crash rates are within the control of motorists. Some are not.
One big factor that is out of the control of individual drivers: The overall increase in traffic throughout the U.S. This is being caused by falling gas prices and improving economy conditions. As the economy gets better and gas prices go down, more people drive. More people have money to travel in their cars to more distant locations. More people are working, which means more people are commuting on a regular basis. Since there is more traffic, there are also more people who could potentially become involved in a car crash and get hurt or pass away. Drivers cannot do anything about the fact that roads are getting more crowded.
There are also other factors that are completely within the control of drivers though. Distraction is a big issue, as smartphones continue to saturate the market and as more and more vehicles come equipped with infotainment systems. Even hands-free systems aren't safe, and drivers should not use them unless they want to contribute to rising car crash risks.