A total of 17,775 people died in auto accidents nationwide during the first six months of 2016. Reuters reports experts suggest the number of deaths is likely going to be even higher during the last half of the year, thanks to seasonal driving and bad winter weather in many parts of the country. The total death rate could be close to 40,000. This is a 10.4 percent rise in fatalities compared with 2015. Experts from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are calling this is a "crisis," especially as there was already a 7.2 percent increase in deaths between 2014 and 2015. This figure constitutes the largest full-year increase since 1966.
More motorists on the road is one popular explanation for why the number of fatalities has begun climbing after decades of steady decline. However, there are other possible explanations as well. 24/7 Wall Street suggests the eight people who die every single day in car accidents as a result of distracted driving could help to explain why death rates are going up.
Avoid Distracted Driving as Car Accident Death Rates Rise
Distracted driving is commonly thought of as involving cell phone use, which it definitely does. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates there are 660,000 people on U.S. roads who are on their phones at any given time. Cell phones are just one of many distractions, though. There are lots of things that take focus off the wheel. In fact, five of the key distracted driving behaviors you should avoid include:
- Unrestrained pets in the car: Your animals could become a substantial disruption as they move around the car or climb on you. If they are not restrained, they could also turn into a projectile that could seriously injure the animal and passengers in the car if a collision occurs.
- Eating while driving: While eating is common, it is also a dangerous activity while you should be focusing on operating your vehicle.
- Entering data into a GPS: Typing an address or searching for Points of Interest on a GPS can take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road.
- Using an in-vehicle entertainment system: Many cars are equipped with complex electronic systems with things like satellite radio and even the ability to look things up on the Internet. Using these infotainment systems while operating a vehicle can cause your focus to be taken away from the road.
- Daydreaming: While letting your mind wander may not seem as dangerous as being distracted by something else, Fox News reports that recent studies showed daydreaming was actually more dangerous than cell phone use. Researchers looked at accident data and determined 62 percent of the collisions involved at least one of the drivers being "lost in thought." By contrast, 12 percent of accidents involved a driving who was on a cell phone.
You should have just one focus while driving: the road and the other vehicles around you. Don't contribute to the rising number of car accident deaths! Stay safe by avoiding distractions.