The National Safety Council (NSC) recently released preliminary figures for roadway deaths. According to the NSC, approximately 40,000 people died on United States roads in 2018. This number represents a 14 percent increase in the number of deaths from just four years ago.
Even though 2018 saw a slight decrease in traffic accident fatalities, this was the third year in a row since the Great Recession that traffic deaths in America totaled 40,000 or more. In addition to the traffic deaths, approximately 4.5 million people were seriously injured in traffic accidents during 2018.
Do We Know Why Traffic Fatalities Continue to Increase?
The NSC statistics do not reveal causation. However, it states that driver behavior is a likely factor in the number of traffic fatalities. Distracted driving and drowsy driving appear to continue to be factors in fatal traffic accidents.
Some statistics that seem to support the theory that driver behavior plays a significant role in car accident deaths include:
- 3,450 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2016. This is an increase from 2014 (3,157) and 2015 (3,210).
- 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers in 2015.
- Traffic fatalities in 2015 involving distracted driving increased faster than fatalities caused by speeding, drunk driving, or failure to wear seat belts.
- One-half of serious teen driver crashes are believed to be caused by distractions.
- During the day, it is estimated that at least 481,000 drivers are using their cell phones while driving.
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 328,000 drowsy driving accidents occur each year.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there are 100,000 police reported accidents each year involving drowsy drivers.
- Drowsy driving crashes claimed 5,000 lives in 2015.
- You are three times as likely to be involved in a traffic accident when you are fatigued.
- Driving after losing two hours of sleep is the equivalent of driving after having three beers.
- Going without sleep for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally intoxicated.
The above statistics demonstrate distracted driving and drowsy driving are dangerous driving behaviors, but why are these behaviors so dangerous for drivers.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Any action which takes your attention away from the task of driving is a potentially dangerous distraction. Looking away from the road for even two seconds doubles the risk for a crash. The most dangerous distractions involve all three distractions:
- Taking your hands off the steering wheel;
- Your eyes off the road; and,
- Your mind away from the task of driving.
Using cell phones and other electronic devices, putting on makeup, eating, and reaching for objects are some of the most dangerous driving behaviors because they involve all three types of distraction.
Why is Fatigued Driving Dangerous?
Lack of sleep is dangerous for drivers and workers. A recent investigation into the death of a worker on a drillship off the coast of New Orleans revealed fatigue as a contributing factor in the cause of the accidental death. The accident occurred 10.5 hours into a 12-hour shift after 21 days off work. Members of the crew reported a lack of sleep during the 24 hours before the accident.
The National Safety Council (NSC) recently published an article to employers stating that they needed to address employer fatigue immediately. According to research, approximately 43 percent of workers admit they are too tired to function safely at work. The NSC is calling for employers to implement a comprehensive program (fatigue risk management) to help reduce the number of workplace injuries and deaths attributable to fatigue.
While fatigue is dangerous in the workplace, it is also dangerous on the road. Fatigued and drowsy workers head home can cause traffic accidents. About one-fifth of the drivers surveyed admitted they fell asleep while driving during the past year. More than 40 percent of the respondents admitted to falling asleep at least once since they began driving.
When a driver is drowsy, the driver’s reaction times, awareness of hazards, and ability to remain focused decrease. Anyone can be too tried to drive if they have a lack of sleep. However, third shift workers, swing shift workers, individuals with sleep disorders, and individuals taking certain medications may be at a higher risk of being involved in a drowsy driving accident.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Attorney for Information About Accident Claims
If a fatigued or distracted driver injures you, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries and damages. Proving that the driver was responsible for causing the crash is crucial and could be difficult in some cases. A Texas personal injury lawyer will investigate the crash to determine the cause of the crash and gather evidence proving the other driver was at-fault.