In its most recent CDC Vital Signs update, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that while the reduction of motor vehicle deaths over the last 50 years was one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century, we’ve still got a long way to go.
Each year, more than 32,000 people are killed and another 2 million are injured in traffic collisions in this country, and as of 2013, the fatality rate in motor vehicle accidents was double that of other higher-earning nations. Part of it is that we have a lower front seat belt usage rate than other countries, and still 1 in 3 of all our deadly crashes involves a driver who has been drinking. One-third also involve speeding.
The Vital Signs report was about highlighting some of these achievements, and underscoring what needs to be done to further drive down the numbers, which have hovered around this 30,000 mark for years now. If the U.S. was on par with 19 of the other high-income nations in terms of motor vehicle deaths, we’d be saving 18,000 lives every single year, bringing our annual total down to about 14,000 motor vehicle deaths yearly.
From 2000 to 2013, the traffic crash death rate in these 19 other countries – which include Australia, Britain and Canada – fell by an average of 56 percent. Our crash death rate fell also – by just 31 percent. To this day, approximately 90 people are killed in this country every single day in traffic accidents. That’s the highest death rate compared to any other high-income nation, and it’s unacceptable.
Those 32,000 car accident deaths – to say nothing of the injuries – cost more than $380 million in direct medical costs alone. Some of the biggest risk factors for fatalities in U.S. crashes are:
- Failure to use seat belts, car seats or booster seats, a problem that contributed to some 9,500 deaths, a significant number of them children.
- Driving intoxicated, which caused or contributed to more than 10,000 car accident deaths.
- Speeding, which caused or contributed to more than 9,500 auto accident deaths.
In looking at the ways in which other countries are doing it better, the CDC noted some things we could learn:
- Primary enforcement of seat belt laws that cover every passenger in every seat – not just children or front seat passengers. Allow police officers to initiate a vehicle stop for failure to buckle up – and issue tickets accordingly.
- Adopt nationwide law that requires children to ride in car seats or booster seats until age 8.
- Reduce the allowable blood-alcohol level from 0.08 percent down to 0.02 – 0.05 percent, like most other high-income nations.
- Require ignition interlock devices for all persons convicted of drunk driving.
- Incorporate more sobriety checkpoints and maintain/ enforce minimum legal drinking age.
Among those high-income nations with the highest motor vehicle crash fatality rates per 100,000 people:
- U.S. – 10.3
- New Zealand – 5.6
- Canada – 5.4
- France – 5.1
- Japan – 4.5
- Germany – 4.0
- Spain – 3.6
- Switzerland – 3.3
- U.K. – 2.8
- Sweden – 2.7
For the many who continue to be injured – or surviving loved ones of those killed – in Florida car accidents, consultation with an experienced injury lawyer can help to ascertain whether there may be grounds for recovery of damages from the other driver – or even your own insurance.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
CDC Vital Signs , July 2016, CDC
More Blog Entries:
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Jakubowicz – Underinsured Motorist Claim Validated, July 30, 2016, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog