How Many Car Accidents Happen Each Year?
In this day and age, having at least one car is almost a necessity for most people. Unless you live in a highly populated area with a well planned and budgeted public transportation system such as New York City, chances are, you’re relying on a car to get you back and forth from school and/or work, whether you’re driving the car, or having someone drive you. As helpful as cars can be, they can, in the wrong hands or circumstances, be weapons, causing damage, and even death, to more people than you may realize.
Traffic Accident Fatalities
In 2011, there were 32,367 traffic fatalities in the United States, representing a two percent decrease in the number of fatalities that occurred in 2010. This equates to a national average rate of 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Montana and Puerto Rico had the highest average death rates at 1.79 and 1.93, respectively, while Maine had the lowest, coming in at 0.62.
As shockingly high as these numbers may sound, the national average of traffic deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled has decreased 67% since 1975, with individual state’s rates decreasing anywhere from 56% to 82%.
31% of traffic related fatalities in 2011, involved at least one person who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. This means nearly one third of the deaths were caused by someone breaking the law and driving under the influence.
All states have laws regarding DUI. No one may legally operate a vehicle if they have a BAC higher than .08. States have varying laws in regards to the penalties for such activity. There are also many states that have a zero tolerance policy for drivers who are under the age of 21.
All states have laws regarding wearing a seatbelt and requiring the use of appropriate child safety seats.
Many states, though not all, require motorcyclists to wear a helmet at all times. This is for their protection in the event of a collision, whether it be with an object, another motorcyclist, or a driver.
Some states have distracted driving laws, which apply to talking or texting on a cell phone while driving. In most states, you must use a hands free device, or pull over to use the phone.
Laws vary depending on the state you live in, and are constantly changing. Be sure you’re up to date with your local laws by contacting the local DMV office.
Doing Your Part
To protect yourself and other drivers on the road, you should:
- Always follow the rules of the road. Do not break the speed limit. Use turn signals where required, obey all road signs. Drive appropriately for the current road conditions.
- If you’re drinking, plan to stay where you are for the night, call a cab, or have someone in your group be a designated driver. DUI charges are not only expensive, they put innocent people’s lives at risk.
- Always wear your seatbelt. Never position yourself too close, or too far from the dashboard and airbag. Sit correctly in your seat, never allowing feet or other body parts to hang from the window of the car.
- Never drive when tired. Driving when sleepy is just as dangerous as driving when drunk. If you’re too tired to drive, pull over and rest, or get to the nearest hotel room for the night. If you’re not able to get a room, call a friend and ask them to come get you, or have someone else in the car drive while you rest.