“We are in the midst of a public health crisis and it isn’t Zika,” says the president and CEO of the National Safety Council, when speaking to the rising number of highway traffic fatalities across the nation. After decades of progress in reducing fatalities, “we’re suddenly losing ground”, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Last year, over thirty five thousand people died on our nation’s roadways, an increase of 7.2 percent when compared to 2014. The rising trend continues this year, with the NHTSA estimating 17,775 traffic fatalities in the first six month of 2016, a staggering 10.4 percent increase when compared to the 16,100 killed on roads and highways in the same period last year.
While some of the car accidents resulting in fatalities are due to the fact that more people are driving these days due to a stronger economy and low gasoline prices, the vast majority of fatalities could be prevented by wearing seat belts, slowing down and putting away the phone says the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roughly “ninety percent of crashes are attributed to a driver’s decision to drink and drive, speed or engage in distracting activities”.
Mirroring what is going on in the nation, Iowa’s roadway fatalities have seen a 17.83 percent increase over last year, with 304 deaths recorded so far in 2016. State officials credit a mix of high speeds and impaired or distracted driving for contributing to the higher number of fatalities. In about half of the deaths, the victim was not wearing a seat belt.
Sources: Iowa Public Radio, “Tech, Human Errors Drive Growing Death Toll In Auto Crashes”, by David Schaper, October 20, 2016; Iowa Department of Transportation, “Driver and Crash Statistics”, accessed October 21, 2016.
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