Gas prices have fallen in 2015, making it cheaper for motorists to get behind the wheel. At the same time as gas prices are dropping, more jobs are being created and economic conditions are improving. While 2015 has been a good economic year for many, this has caused one adverse consequence: car accident rates, which had been falling steadily, have now risen dramatically, according to preliminary data.
An analysis of traffic crash facts for 2015 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows many more people dying in 2015 in motor vehicle crashes than in 2014. A close look at the data reveals this rise in deaths is not just caused by more people on the roads. There are actually higher rates of accident deaths occurring when comparing number of fatalities to miles driven. Motorists need to be aware that unsafe behaviors on the road are causing more car crash fatalities, and should make a commitment in 2016 to improve their driving safety practices so the death rate does not continue rising.
Rising Risk of Traffic Collisions a Concern for Chicago Motorists
The National Safety Council (NSC) was one of the first to sound the alarm on rising death rates throughout the United States in 2015. NSC published statistics from the first half of the year, tallying fatalities from January to June. In Illinois, during the first six months of 2015, there were 442 fatalities in car crashes. In 2014, there were just 399 deaths in motor vehicle accidents. This was an 11 percent increase in people dying in car crashes in a single year. Illinois was one of more than 30 states where death rates rose between 2014 and 2015.
NHTSA now has year-end data, which show the trend toward rising annual rates of fatalities in car crashes. The estimate of fatalities is up 8.1 percent when comparing the number of people killed in 2015 car crashes versus in 2014. While this is troubling enough-especially considering 32,675 people had already been killed in 2014-it is even more troubling that the fatality rate rose.
The fatality rate measures deaths per 100 million vehicle miles. This rate rose 4.4 percent from 2014 to 2015. The rise in the rate of people dying means there are other factors helping to contribute to the rise in fatal car accidents, beyond just the fact more people are driving due to improving economic conditions.
Motorists need to remember good driving safety tips, and must avoid bad behaviors. NHTSA warns one-third of deaths nationwide occur in drunk driving crashes, while around 10 percent of fatalities involve distracted driving, and 2.6 percent involve driving while fatigued. Motorists should avoid these and other high-risk behaviors, and try to bring the rate of crash deaths back down in 2016.