An improving economy and lower gas prices are leading to more motorists on the nation’s highways and more fatal car accidents, the National Safety Council (NSC) says.
The NSC said in a news release that the 18,630 motor vehicle deaths from January through June 2015 represent a 14 percent increase from the same six-month period a year earlier. The surge in traffic deaths in Florida is far worse. Preliminary figures show 1,441 motor vehicle deaths from January to June this year, a 29 percent jump from the first six months of 2014, according to the NSC.
The increase in Florida car accidents is among the highest in the nation. Only Oregon, which has reported 204 traffic fatalities so far this year, had a higher percentage increase in traffic fatalities— a 59 percent spike compared to the first six months of 2014. Meanwhile, Georgia had a 26 percent jump (522 to 657), as did Minnesota (149 to 187).
Florida is one of only three states reporting more than 1,000 traffic fatalities during the first six months of the years. The others are Texas and California. Texas has seen 1,643 deaths so far this year, a one percent decline from last year. California has had 1,566 traffic deaths through June 2015, a 20 percent increase over the 1,302 in the first six months of 2014.
Fatalities could exceed 40,000 this year if the current rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents continues, making 2015 the most deadly year since 2007, before the start of the recession in 2008.
The cost of deaths, injuries and property damage in crashes for the first six months of the year is up as well, with the NSC putting that figure at $152 billion, a 24 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, injuries in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents have increased 30 percent in the first half of 2015 compared to the same period last year.
The increases likely reflect the effect of gas prices that have fallen by 30 percent since 2014, increased cumulative mileage traveled because of cheaper gas, and an improving economy overall, the NSC’s news release says.
Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC, told Newsweek the increase so far this year looks like a trend instead of a spike in the numbers.
The correlation between a growing economy and an increase in traffic fatalities is typical, Hersman said. As people return to work, they return to commuting. As they make more money, they can afford more vacations involving longer drives. More cumulative time on the road translates into a higher number of accidents.
Hersman said speeding, alcohol impairment and distracted driving are also potential contributors to the rise in crash deaths and injuries.
The NSC first said in May that 2015 traffic deaths had increased every month year-over-year for six months. Because certain crash factors, such as speeding and alcohol, are more common during the summer, we can expect third-quarter statistics for July, August, and September to be bad, if not worse.
We see the harm that unsafe drivers cause and we are committed to helping Florida families who have been injured by another driver’s negligence. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another driver, there are steps you should take to protect your rights. The first is contacting a car accident attorney.
The Disparti Law Group assists car accident victims from Tampa, St. Petersburg, Holiday and elsewhere in Florida. We can help you navigate Florida’s complex no-fault insurance and comparative negligence laws to obtain the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, vehicle damage and other crash-related losses.