Even drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians who are vigilant and follow all the laws and basic rules for safety are vulnerable. When adding other factors like inclement weather and the vehicle itself, it is important to be cognizant of current problems that may be contributing to the number of collisions and to know what to do after an accident has happened.
Auto fatalities are spiking even though fewer people are driving
According to the most recently available statistics, road fatalities in 2020 were at their highest level in 13 years. Even more troubling, speculation based on current evidence suggests that 2021 could end up with worse numbers. This is true despite fewer people taking to the road because of ongoing societal health concerns, working from home, remote learning and a reduction in leisure activities. For the first six months of 2021, there were nearly 21,200 deaths in auto accidents. This was a rise of more than 18% when compared to the first six months of 2020.
Safety advocates, agencies and legislators are sufficiently concerned that a federal strategy is to be implemented at the start of the new year to try and make the roads safer. The first response to the increase in fatalities was to automatically assume that drivers were taking liberties because the roads were empty by speeding and ignoring the law. Still, as people returned to a more normal life, the accident rates kept rising. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says people were driving at excessive speeds and failing to wear their seatbelts while the health challenges were at its apex. Other factors are vehicle size and an absence of mandated safety requirements. SUV sales are far outpacing those of smaller vehicles and when there is an accident, these vehicles do greater damage.
Experts at a loss for explanations
This problem is leading to experts questioning previously held assumptions about auto accidents and the circumstances in which they occur. A spokesperson for Transportation for America says their fundamental beliefs as to why accidents happen are being shaken. In the past, it was thought that driver error was a prominent catalyst for these accidents and changing behaviors would lower the number of collisions. It also believed that the number of vehicles on the road was a major reason for high accident rates. Now, they believe that road design is at least as crucial in helping to prevent accidents. The same designs that are used for highways – where driving fast is a part of the equation – are mistakenly being used for residential areas and giving drivers the idea that they can continue driving the same way in more densely populated areas where traffic moves slower.
An in-depth investigation is needed after an auto accident
When people are injured or lose a loved one in auto accidents, there will be myriad questions as to how it happened and what steps to take. Since there has been a statistical increase in auto accident fatalities and even experts are questioning its roots, those who are impacted in any way should have assistance to assess the situation from their perspective and with their interests in mind. That will include determining the medical costs, lost income, long-term implications and more. It is imperative to have guidance from the start to look at the case individually and determine a strategy. Consulting with those experienced in these challenges can be essential.