The National Safety Council(NSC) issued a report last week stating that in 2012, direct costs attributed to car accidents rose to 276 billion dollars. The costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs, and property damage. The numbers indicate that our roadways are becoming more dangerous. In fact, when compared to 2011, the NSC estimates that car accident fatalities rose by 5%. This is the first increase in car accidents in over seven years since 2005. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 36,200 people died in traffic accidents last year, as opposed to 34,600 in 2011. The estimates provided by the NSC are based on monthly fatality data that it receives from every state and the District of Columbia.
So why the sudden increase in car accidents? The NSC and other safety advocates attribute the increase in part to more driving due to an improved economy. Officials note that the total number of miles driven by Americans increased in 2012. With people driving more, drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents. Some attribute the increase to distracted driving. According to the Center for Disease Control(CDC), the number of drivers that were reportedly distracted at the time of a fatal car accident increased by 7 percent in 2005, to more than ten percent in 2009. The numbers show a dangerous trend. According to the CDC, more than 5,400 people died in fatal car accidents in 2009 as a result of distracted drivers.
While some blame smart phones and distracted driving for most highway deaths, many of the causes of highway death remain unchanged: Drivers do not wear seatbelts, drunk driving, inexperienced teen drivers, drowsy driving, unsafe trucks, and motorcyclists not wearing helmets. Despite the many factors that attribute to the rise in car accidents, the fact remains that our roads continue become more dangerous.
Aaron Watson is an car accident attorney at Levin Papantonio. Mr. Watson has served as president for the Black Law Students Association at Stetson, interned with the United States Department of Justice, and volunteered with the Florida Attorney General’s office. He was selected for the Stallworth Trial Team Award by faculty, named to Who’s Who Among American Universities & Colleges, and was inducted into The National Order of Barristers. Mr. Watson currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice. He also serves on the board of directors for the Florida Justice Association.