Making Sense of the Rising Rate of Auto Accidents in the US and NC
There is no doubt that the rate of auto collisions in North Carolina and throughout the US is steadily rising each year. The National Highway Safety Administration revealed in 2015 that the number of auto accident fatalities in the US had increased by more than 7% compared to 2014 (the largest increase in such fatalities in half a century), with more than 35K deaths from auto accident injuries. Now, the National Safety Council has revealed that the rate increased again by more than 6% with over 40K fatalities in 2016.
These statistics cover all auto accident fatalities, which include the average passenger car, trucks, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The estimated cost from auto accidents in 2016 was $432.5 billion. Looking at North Carolina, specifically, between 2014 and 2015, the rate of auto accident fatalities increased by 26%, the fifth greatest increase in the whole of the United States. This leads many to wonder and speculate on what’s causing the tremendous rise in collisions and fatalities, as well as what can be done about it.
This is an especially pressing question when it seems that automobile safety features are better now than ever before. For the most part, we have better airbags, better braking systems, and better warnings, with blind-spot warnings and cameras for backing up in many vehicles.
Why More and More People are Being Killed in Auto Accidents
There are a number of plausible reasons for the dramatic increase in auto accident fatalities between 2014 and 2015 and between 2015 and 2016. By analyzing these reasons, we, as a society, may be able to find solutions to this problem before another increase occurs in 2017. One possible reason for the increase is the increased use of handheld technology, and the distractions of texting, social media, and even complex GPS technologies.
Another probable cause is the fact that gas prices have gone down along with the rate of unemployment. More people are working, meaning more traffic during the morning and evening commute. More people can afford gas for their vehicles (thanks to having a job and lower gas prices), meaning that there are more travel and traffic in general.
There is some evidence supporting this because it was reported that people drove 3.5% more miles in 2015 than they did in 2014. While fatalities increased more than they had in half a decade, the miles driven increased by more than they had in a quarter of a decade. It makes sense that the number of auto collision deaths would increase substantially alongside the increase in traffic. Further, the decrease in unemployment impacts more than the work commute traffic and the ability to travel. It also allows people to afford distracting technologies, and to go out and enjoy themselves, potentially with drinking. Even when there is a designated sober driver, intoxicated passengers are less likely to make positive decisions about buckling up, which could further contribute to fatalities when collisions do occur.
What Can We Do To Minimize the Rate of Auto Accident Fatalities?
The good news is that there are many professionals, companies, and government bodies who are all looking into the possible solutions to the increasing rate of auto accident fatalities over the past couple of years. One example is a technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other. Notice that we didn’t say drivers, who already have various means of communicating with one another (think signals and brake lights), but the technology that allows for communication between the actual vehicles. The technology is referred to as V2V communication (meaning ‘vehicle-to-vehicle), and it could make a great difference.
What Exactly is V2V Technology and How Could it Help?
V2V technology was first discussed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2014, and it is hoped that it will be in use by 2019 as a rule for new vehicles that automobile manufacturers would have to comply with by 2023. It works by employing a technology known as DSRC, for ‘dedicated short-range communication’ that enables vehicles to send information about their speed, their direction of travel, and of course, their location, to other vehicles that are nearby (within roughly 1K feet). With the V2V technology, vehicles would update other vehicles with current information virtually continuously, ten times in a single second. The vehicle’s V2V technology could then alert the driver of any potential hazards, and the driver could respond accordingly with the provided information.
Then, there are the vehicles that can drive themselves, which could use the information to automatically change their own speed or even their direction. Already, there is technology in place in many vehicles that causes them to break when a hazard is detected. If successfully applied to the majority of vehicles in everyday traffic, V2V technology could potentially prevent thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle collisions.
Taking this concept a bit further, there is also the possibility of implementing what is known as V2I technology, which refers to vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, where the infrastructure includes things like traffic lights and stop signs, construction zones, and the entities responsible for planning traffic, transportation, and construction. This technology would be employed by 2021, with approval, and like V2V technology, the requirement for motor vehicle manufacturers to abide by the rule would be 2023. It is estimated that, with the new technology, the value of new vehicles will be increased by as much as $350 by 2020.
Have You Lost a Loved One to a Fatal Auto Collision in Charlotte, North Carolina?
While this potential for new life-saving vehicle communication technology is welcome news for many, it does little to address the grief and loss of those who have already fallen victim to fatal auto accidents. If you have lost someone you love to a motor vehicle collision in Charlotte, North Carolina, contact Brown Moore & Associates to learn about your options for filing a claim and recovering compensation. You can never assuage your grief by recovering compensation, but you will be able to get some relief from the financial burdens of medical expenses, funeral, burial, the lost wages of your loved one, and loss of companionship.