The day after Christmas, three people on their way home from a nightclub
were killed when their car smashed through two fences and plunged into
a lake near Fort Lauderdale. Only the driver escaped the sinking vehicle
the cause is still under investigation, witnesses reported that the car had been speeding prior to the crash.
A tragedy for sure, perhaps even a preventable one – and they happen
all the time.
In 2015, there were more than 35,000 traffic fatalities. To give some perspective, that measures out to almost 100 deaths a day
and is roughly equal to the population of Aventura.
Things had been heading in the right direction, but 2015 reversed a ten-year
trend of decreasing fatalities. Instead of making further progress, that
year saw an increase of 7.5 percent over 2014 and was the largest single-year
increase since 1966. Final figures for 2016 have not yet been released, but
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that traffic fatalities in the first six months were up 10.4 percent.
There were 35,092 people killed in traffic crashes in 2015. Human factors
are responsible for as much as 94% of fatal traffic crashes. Making better
decisions by choosing not to drive while drowsy, drugged, drunk, or distracted
could save lives.
So, what’s going on? Well, there are greater volumes of traffic as
evidenced by the Federal Highway Administration’s conclusion that
Americans drove a record of more than 3.1 trillion miles in 2015. But
aren’t vehicles and roads designed to be safer? Turns out, they
are only part of the battle. The rest of the problem lies with the fallibility
of humans, with as much as 94 percent of crashes caused by human error.
One of the biggest issues is drivers who seem unable to give their full
cognitive, visual, and manual attention to the challenging act of operating
a motor vehicle. Instead of focusing on the road, many people are driving
while using their cell phones to check email, post social media, take
pictures, watch videos, listen to music, send texts, and (gasp!) make
phone calls. The potential for distraction is obvious, and even hands-free
operation is risky. Using a mobile phone engages the same parts of the
brain as driving. As if that isn’t terrifying enough, there is
some evidence that the diversion lasts for as long as 27 seconds AFTER voice commands are used.
Making a poor choice to speed, drive while tired, or drive while impaired
by alcohol or drugs adds to the increase in road deaths. In fact, around
one-third of 2015’s traffic fatalities involved an intoxicated or
speeding driver. Furthermore, despite a national seat belt law (except
for adults in New Hampshire), almost half of the deaths were passengers
who had not been wearing their seat belts.
One way to fix the problem is to take away free choice. Certain technologies
are gradually becoming standard on most new vehicles, such as automatic
emergency braking, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitors, and adaptive
headlights. These four innovations could save 10,000 lives annually, according
to estimations by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While that’s
a step in the right direction, other opportunities to supersede drivers’
bad decisions must be pursued.
Whether you were a motorist, passenger, pedestrian, or cyclist, if you
have been hurt in a
vehicle accident, the attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. can help. For 45 years, we
have been the trusted advocates for countless traffic collision victims,
and we are highly experienced in handling a wide range of auto and truck
accident cases throughout South Florida. We also work on a contingency
basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost
to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance,
we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or
filling out a case evaluation form.