Based on the data so far, 2015 is shaping up to be the deadliest traffic year in the U.S. since 2007, according to a recent report from the National Safety Council (NSC). If the second half of the year is anything like the first, the nation may experience record-setting fatalities.
A few states – including Rhode Island – are bucking the trend when it comes to traffic safety. These states have actually experienced a decrease in fatal accidents in 2015, though there are still far too many deadly car crashes caused by driver negligence.
National Increase in Traffic Fatalities
Between January and June 2015, 18,630 were killed on U.S. roads, according to the NSC. That represents a 14 percent increase over the same period last year. Not all the deaths are proportionally distributed nationally, however. Some states like California, Florida, Georgia and Oregon have recorded increases that are far greater than the national average.
The NSC attributes the increase in fatalities to a couple of factors: lower gas prices and a recovering economy. Americans drive more often when they can afford it and have the vacation time to do so. When they log more miles, they naturally increase their chances of getting into an accident.
The NSC cites another possible factor that is as preventable as it is dangerous: distracted driving. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous actions a driver can engage in behind the wheel, but it is unfortunately on the rise. Around 70 percent of Americans report using their smartphones while driving, which makes them eight times more likely to be in a collision, Newsweek reports.
Rhode Island Bucks the National Trend
Rhode Island is one of 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have luckily seen their numbers go in the other direction. Traffic deaths have been on the decline in Rhode Island over the past few years. So far, there have been 9 percent fewer car accident deaths in the state than there were during the same period last year.
State Police believe that the decrease is due to increased targeted enforcement (including a crackdown on texting while driving), increased public messaging about driving under the influence, and school education programs.
Drivers aged 18-24 represent a significant portion of the drop in fatalities, which is perhaps most encouraging of all – young drivers who are well educated about traffic safety will hopefully carry forward the promising trend, according to a report by Rhode Island Public Radio.
How We Can Make Rhode Island’s Roads Safer
The work to end traffic fatalities in Rhode Island is by no means finished. Government and law enforcement can continue their educational efforts to decrease the number of drivers who drive while intoxicated or distracted. Individual drivers, too, can make sure they’re engaging in safe driving habits.
The NSC recommends being well rested before driving, arranging alternate transportation before drinking, learning about your car’s unique safety features and never using a cell phone behind the wheel. We can also talk to our loved ones, friends and kids about being safer drivers.
Unfortunately, negligent drivers will continue plague the highways, roads and streets of Rhode Island, causing fatalities that could have been avoided. If you have lost a loved one in a deadly car accident, you need immediate legal help from a lawyer who has experience handling wrongful death lawsuits in Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island personal injury attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush provide free case reviews to motor vehicle accident victims and their families. Call us at 855-801-6262 or fill out a contact form to set up a free legal consultation. We have four offices located in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick, and Woonsocket to easily serve you.
- NSC: NSC Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates
- NSC: S. on pace for deadliest driving year since 2007, says National Safety Council
- NSC: Cell phones are involved in an estimated 27 percent of all car crashes, says National Safety Council
- Newsweek: S. Traffic Deaths, Injuries and Related Costs Up in 2015
- Newsweek: People Keep Texting, Emailing, Facebooking and Selfie-ing—While Driving
- Rhode Island Public Radio: RI Road Deaths Decline