• Katie Nork

2016 is on Track to be the Deadliest Year in Five Decades

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org

2015 was the deadliest year on the roads in five decades and 2016 is on track to be even worse. CNN reports that there were 35,092 auto-related deaths in 2015, up 7.2 percent from 2014. The National Safety Council stated that fatalities for 2016 were up 9 percent in just the first half of the year.

Many factors contribute to this increase; not surprising is smartphone use, and also fracking, climate change and a strong economy are all to blame. Director of statistical reporting at the National Safety Council, Ken Kolosh, reported, “It’s a very complex system. You can never say emphatically it’s these two or three things.”

The National Safety Council has seen a 34 percent increase in automobile deaths in Georgia this year as well. There have been more single vehicles crashes, lane departure and crashes into stationary objects in the state. Harris Blackwood, director of Georgia’s highway safety office stated, “These are the characteristics of distraction, and we believe texting to be the primary cause.”

Fracking, a new way to drill oil, has given us a larger supply of oil and in turn has reduced gas prices, which has increased the amount of travelers that are hitting the road. More cars on the road means more crashes. There has also been an increase in commercial vehicles on the roads since the economy has recovered from the Recession. This increases the amount of collisions between large trucks and small cars. Teenagers are more likely to have jobs nowadays too, so that means they will be on the roads more and they are high-risk drivers.

Warmer weather also causes more traffic accidents. There are more motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians out in the warm weather that pose more of a risk of getting into an accident. In bad weather conditions, people are more cautious of their driving which actually helps to prevent accidents. Kolosh stated, “Bad winter weather actually saves lives; while it’s tough to drive in winter weather, drivers know that and avoid it.” Drivers should be cautious on the road in any type of weather.

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