An Alarming Reversal in Roadway Death Trends

 Posted on September 08, 2016 in Car Accidents

By Daniel Kotin

For half a century, roadway deaths caused by motor vehicle collisions were consistently dropping.  Many factors contributed to this good news.  Manufacturers have consistently improved the crashworthiness of their vehicles.  Use of 3-point seatbelt systems became the law and have now become the habitual practice of virtually all drivers and passengers.  And, perhaps most importantly, increased police and judicial intolerance of drunk driving as well as the tireless efforts of groups like MADD have created a societal shift whereby far fewer drivers dare operate vehicles while intoxicated.

As a result, data showed that fatal roadway crashes were in a near constant decline over the past 50 years.  But suddenly, this trend has reversed.

In 2015, fatal roadway crashes in the U.S. increased by 8%.  This is the largest annual increase since the 1960s.  According to the National Safety Council, roadway deaths for the first half of 2016 are up 9%.  (The data for Illinois in 2016 is even worse with deaths increasing by 12% over last year.)

One contributing factor may be that there are simply more cars on the roadway.  Higher interstate speed limits may also play a part.  But undoubtedly, the major reason for the increase in roadway deaths is caused by one previously unheard of element – distracted driving!

Hand-held cell phones, texting while driving, e-mailing while driving, reading news stories while driving, watching video while driving, and even playing Pokémon Go while driving have dramatically caused an increase in motor vehicle collisions, and ultimately deaths.  What can we do to address this issue?

Tougher criminal penalties for these activities may help the problem.  Likewise, continuing advances in automotive technology, such as automatic collision avoidance systems, will help slow this trend. But the real solution to the problem – just as it has been in recent decades when addressing drunk driving – will require a societal shift to take place.

Most of us would not think of riding in a car without fastening a seatbelt.  Likewise, very few of us would consider riding with a drunk driver.  In order for roadway deaths caused by distracted driving to decrease, we, as a society, need to react similarly to the thought of any manual or visual interaction with technology by a driver while operating a car.  Only then can we return to the trend of roadway deaths decreasing year after year.

For information about the Chicago personal injury law firm of Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, call 312-605-8800 or contact us online.

Share this post:
  • Badges and associations
  • Badges and associations

Call Us312-605-8800fax312-605-8808

161 North Clark Street, Suite 3050
Chicago, IL 60601

Back to Top