After decades of overall improvement in driving safety, traffic fatalities are again on the rise.
Traffic fatalities this year are on a pace to reach 40,000, which would be the highest total since 2007. That’s a vast improvement from about 55,000 deaths annually in the 1970s, but reverses years of declines that have been attributed to air bags, less drunken driving and more seat belt use.
The rebounding economy plays a large role, but safety experts say there is a new danger driving part of the increase: distracted driving.
Drivers now are not just talking on cellphones — they’re texting, using apps to follow directions, even playing games.
“I would classify this as one of the biggest causes of accidents,” said Angel Reyes, Managing Partner of Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm, a personal injury law firm in Dallas Texas. “Many drivers are so self-contained, they’re really not paying attention. They’re eating, talking to their friends, running their lives. They should be paying close attention to what they’re doing.”
With fatalities being on a such a sharp increase, many law makers around the United States have sought out new and creative solutions – but to no avail.
Another factor believed to contribute to deaths is higher speed limits. Federal limits on speed were repealed in 1995, leading many states to increase limits. Many Illinois interstate limits are now 70 mph outside metropolitan areas. The Safety Council cited studies showing the higher limits were associated with a 3 percent increase in fatalities.
Apart from speed and distracted driving, one of the biggest factors in traffic fatalities is the economy. The Safety Council notes that the number of miles driven correlates with economic activity and reached a record high this year, with more people driving for work and gas prices generally low.
More people driving farther, faster and with more distractions means more people are likely to die on the roads.
In the Dallas area, personal injury attorney Angel Reyes said he’s handling more and more distracted driving cases.
With almost all of us using cellphones, Reyes said, it will require a shift in attitudes to reduce the danger.
“It’s got to be where it’s very taboo, where if you’re found guilty you’re a pariah,” he said. “I think that’s what it will take.”
Reyes | Browne | Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation. Call us today for a free consult to find out more.
Thanks to: The National Security Council