The first half of 2016 brought grim news if you wish to avoid an auto accident. The total number of traffic fatalities increased nearly 10.4 percent over the first six months of 2016. Even worse, this is part of a continuing increase of traffic fatalities that began near the end of 2014. Some experts feel there may be a link between the increase of traffic fatalities and the economy recovery that began in late 2014.
The increase was announced by the Transportation Department during a conference. Notably, the purpose of the conference was to set an ambitious goal to completely eliminate traffic deaths and injuries within 30 years. Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, stated, “We have an immediate crisis on our hands, and we also have a long-term challenge.” To put this long-term challenge into stark numbers, consider that 35,092 people died in traffic fatalities in 2015. That number was a 7.2 percent jump from the total number of traffic fatalities in 2014. Thanks to the new statistics released at the conference, it appears 2016 is set to go beyond both years. Over the first six months, 17,775 people died in traffic. Only 16,100 people died in that same amount of time in 2015.
Many people wonder how an increase in economic prosperity can cause an auto accident or a traffic fatality. In truth, it’s actually rather simple. An improved economy means more people are out traveling. People have more disposal income for longer trips and vacations. For example, according to the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. drivers clocked a record 1.58 trillion miles during the first half of 2016. This is an increase of 3.3 percent. Understandably, the increased traveling increases the odds of an auto accident or a traffic fatality.
To reach the lofty goal of zero traffic fatalities, the Transportation Department has promised $1 million a year over the next three years to go towards grants supporting the goal. Many experts believe the goal is achievable through rapidly introducing self-driving cars and other advanced automotive technologies. These technologies range from making rear view cameras a standard feature on automobiles to designing more cars that can parallel park by themselves. The numbers suggest cars taking on more and more human responsibilities is a critical step for reaching the goal of zero traffic fatalities. For example, human error is responsible for 94 percent of crashes. If that human error can be eliminated by computers, much of the goal will already be reached without any other changes.
The idea for an entire year passing without any traffic deaths was first hatched in Sweden. In 1997, that country dubbed their goal Vision Zero. Since that time, other countries and several cities in America have adopted similar goals. On the surface, the goal sounds exceedingly ambitious. However, with the help of modern technology and a time span of three decades, the goal just might be achievable. Someday, dying in an auto accident may become as rare for you as being struck by lightning.