Late last month, tragedy struck on Southern State Parkway on Long Island, where a car with five people barreled off the roadway and into numerous trees, resulting in two deaths and three critical injuries.
Our Long Island car accident lawyers understand in that case, the surviving driver was charged with reckless operation, but that may be of little consolation to those who have suffered such a loss.
Sadly, such incidents are becoming more common, both in New York and around the country, according to the National Safety Council. In fact, for the first time in seven years, traffic deaths spiked – by a full 5 percent last year. The statistics department of the non-profit advocacy group found that traffic fatalities nationwide rose from 34,600 in 2011 up to 36,200 in 2012.
Car accident injuries are up by 5 percent as well, having reached nearly 4 million last year.
When we factor in financial costs, specifically looking at productivity loss, wage reduction, medical bills, property damage and emergency services, we’re looking at an astronomical price tag of nearly $277 billion across the country.
When we look at the month-to-month break down, it’s no surprise to see that since 2009, June, July and August are consistently the most dangerous time of the year. One might reason that the absence of severe winter weather might make for optimal driving conditions that would reduce crashes. However, when the weather is nice, people are more apt to head out and be on the road in the first place. Secondly, you have an influx during that time of teen drivers, who would otherwise be in school throughout the day.
In recent years, though, March and April have seen significant upticks in fatal crashes (9 and 10 percent, respectively). Officials speculate that this could be due to increasingly mild winters and earlier spring seasons.
That doesn’t explain the sudden increase overall, though. The NSC theorizes that one factor is the economic improvements we’ve seen over the last year. More money in your pocket means people fill up their gas tank more frequently and take more trips. More people on the road is inevitably going to mean more crashes.
While groups like the NSC have been successful in driving down fatalities attributed to lack of a seat belt and lagging vehicle technology, there is a major problem that has reportedly been growing in scope: Distracted driving.
Teens and young people are the most common offenders. The National Highway Safety Administration reports those who text and drive are nearly 25 times as likely to be in an accident. In 2010, it’s estimated that distracted drivers caused the deaths of some 3,000 people. We don’t have more recent figures, but we can safely assume it has increased, given the ever-expanding pervasiveness of smartphones in the U.S.
Parents should use this information to talk with their teens about the dangers, and have them sign a pledge form, available at www.distraction.gov, promising to never talk or text on the phone behind the wheel, to speak up if the person driving them is doing so and to encourage friends and family members to drive phone-free.
There is hope of driving down this trend. It starts with you.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
National Safety Council Estimates First National Increase in Traffic Deaths Since 2005, Feb. 19, 2012, Press Release, National Safety Council
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Harlem Bus Accident Sends 11 to Hospital, Feb. 13, 2013, Long Island Car Accident Lawyer Blog