The year 2015 was record-setting, but not in a good way—at least when it comes to accidents. Last year broke a record for how many fatal automobile accidents occurred, up 9 percent from 2014 and the highest it has been since 2008. Although a variety of factors could be the reason for the frightening increase, no one is completely sure why so many people lost their lives on the road last year.
Possible Reasons for 2015’s Record-Setting Numbers: More Miles Traveled
Of the 285.5 million cars that were on the road last year, more than 26,000 of their drivers and occupants died in devastating accidents in the first nine months of 2015. The year before, in 2014, a slightly fewer 23,796 were killed because of car crashes. This is the highest these numbers have been for this period since 2008.
One of the suspected reasons for the increase in lives lost for the first nine months of the year is that people drove more during that time in 2015 than in 2014. Preliminary data indicates that a 3.5 percent increase in the number of drivers who traveled during those time periods occurred between 2014 and 2015. The fatality rate for that time period in 2015 climbed to 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which is up from 1.05 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled during January to September 2014.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reported that all 10 of its designated areas around the country experienced increases in accident-related deaths in 2015. The region that includes Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho saw a 20 percent jump.
Increase in Safety Recalls
Along with seeing more accident-related deaths than ever before, 2015 also became the year of the recalls, and many were quite shocking. From Volkswagen’s emissions cover-up to General Motors’ ignition switch defect and Takata’s self-exploding airbags, recalls sprouted up all over the place. In fact, more than 900 separate recalls were issued in 2015, which resulted in over 51 million vehicles being recalled for various problems. The increase in both deaths and vehicle recalls has some wondering if the two are related. NHTSA has stated that 94 percent of accidents are caused by human error, but also admits that recalls create a potential for the increase in the number of accidents that occur.
It’s not a secret that drivers and vehicles, alike, are becoming more dependent on technology. While the technology is often helpful, it can also become quite distracting. Drivers who talk or text on the phone while driving have an increased risk of getting involved in accidents. Even if they use hands-free technology, drivers are still cognitively distracted when behind the wheel, which means their minds may be somewhere other than where they should be, which is on the road.
Technology that comes standard on newer vehicles is also a source of distraction for many drivers. In fact, some even come equipped with Wi-Fi, which can encourage drivers to use their phones and other devices while behind the wheel. Taking selfies, posting content on social media sites, and video chats are just some of the dangerous activities that drivers are capable of now when operating their vehicles.
If You Are Injured, the Reason Will Matter
The official reasons for the rise in fatal car accidents in 2015 have yet to be determined. However, accident victims don’t have time to wait around to learn why they were one of the many victims whose lives could have been taken away by the hands of negligent drivers. If you were hurt in an accident that was caused by a recall or distracted driver, or a mistake made by another driver, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation that could pay for your medical treatments, vehicle repair, and time lost from work. Schedule an appointment with the attorneys of Wayne Wright to find out how they may be able to help, by calling 800-237-3334.