In the first half of 2015, there were 1,441 deaths in motor vehicle collisions across Florida. The prior year, there were 1,114 accidents causing death during the same time period. In 2013, there were 1,172 fatalities during the same months. National Safety Council (NSC) reports there was a 29 percent increase in car accident fatalities from 2014 to 2015 in the first half of the year. NSC's preliminary data on crashes from January to June 2015 revealed increases in fatal accidents in more than 30 states.
With data from the first half of the year showing so many more crashes, the recent news release from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should come as no surprise- although the news release is full of bad news for motorists.
NHTSA Data Shows Rising Car Accidents in 2015
NHTSA has released preliminary data showing crash rates during all of 2015. Like the numbers released mid-year by NSC, the crash statistics makes clear 2015 was considerably less safe than 2014 when it comes to car crashes. The troubling stats show:
- In 2014, 32,645 people died in car crashes. In 2015, there was an 8.1 percent rise in total fatalities over the course of the year, compared with total deaths in car accidents in 2014.
- In 2014, the fatality rate (measured as deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) was 1.07. This is the lowest fatality rate since data started being collected back in 1975. In 2015, however, the fatality rate rose 8.4 percent.
2015 saw more drivers on the road, traveling more miles. The increase in drivers on the roads could be enough to account for the higher number of people killed. However, the increase in fatality rates, which take total miles driven into account, suggest there are not just more people but also that motorists are behaving less safely and are generally more likely to cause crashes.
The fact there are more people on the roads can be explained by lower-than-normal gas prices and continued improvements to the economy following the 2008 economic crash. The fact drivers are less safe may have many different causes, including the fact improved economic conditions may have resulted in more teens with jobs and more teen drivers lacking experience.
Good economic conditions and low gas prices should be good news, but it is a big problem if Floridians are less safe every time the economy gets better and more drivers hit the roads. Motorists can and should take steps to try to prevent crashes no matter how often they are on the roads or how many people are driving.
NHTSA points out common causes of car crashes, including drunk driving, which was the cause of 1/3 of all car crash fatalities and resulted in 9,967 people being killed in 2014. Distracted driving also caused 10 percent of crash deaths, and drowsy driving caused at least 846 fatalities in 2014. Drivers who make a commitment to not drinking, not becoming distracted by internal or external distractions, and not driving while fatigued can go a long way towards making sure 2016 is a safer year than 2015 was on Florida's roads.