After reporting the steepest two-year increase in motor vehicle deaths from 2014 to 2016, there is some reason to feel optimistic about the National Safety Council’s (NSC) announcement that fatalities are down during the first half of 2018. However, the NSC warns that the United States is still on track to see 40,000 roadway deaths and 4 million crash-related injuries for the third straight year. Between January and June of this year, there were approximately 18,720 roadway fatalities and 2.1 million serious crash-related injuries nationwide.
For nearly 100 years, the National Safety Council has been tracking roadway fatality and injury trends in the United States. Although the national statistics have dipped slightly in 2018, the NSC notes that some states have seen a significant drop, over a 10% decrease, in motor vehicle deaths including Michigan, New York, Indiana, and Louisiana. In nine states, there has been an increase in fatalities by more than 5% including Oregon, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. Washington State reported 234 deaths and followed the national trend with a 1% decrease.
Making Roads Safer
While most of us were enjoying our long Labor Day weekend, the National Safety Council estimates that 420 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents during the three days.
Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the NSC emphasizes the need for safer roads, “When it comes to this leading cause of accidental death, we aren’t making progress – we’re treading water. We cannot accept more than 18,700 deaths as the price of mobility.”
To improve road safety, the NSC encourages motorists to:
- Practice defensive driving.
- Use seatbelts.
- Arrange alternative transportation or use a designated driver when drinking alcohol.
- Don’t drive when fatigued.
- Avoid distractions.
- Understand the dangers of drugged driving.
- Recognize impairment from prescription opioids, marijuana use, and other legal or illegal drugs.
- Stay involved in teens’ driving habits.
- Provide supervised driving practice.
- Practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions.
- Don’t allow activities that distract from driving such as talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, or playing with the radio.
- Know your car’s safety features.
- Read your vehicle’s manual, since many of the new safety features are not yet standardized.
- Fix your auto recalls immediately.
- Encourage your lawmakers to establish strong traffic safety laws.
Road to Zero
To help make road safety a priority, the National Safety Council manages the Road to Zero Coalition with many organizations collaborating for the first time to present a plan to address motor vehicle deaths. The Coalition believes “Getting to zero isn’t impossible, it just hasn’t been done yet,” and recently released a report with strategies to end roadway fatalities in the United States by 2050. The NSC encourages motorists to join the Road to Zero Coalition to follow the progress and understand how professional organizations are coming together to improve road safety.