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Car Accident Deaths Spike 5 Percent Last Year

Mar 1, 2013 - Car Accidents, Tuscaloosa by

We recently reported on the number of teen driver fatalities going up in Alabama and throughout the country. growinggraph

Now, our Tuscaloosa car accident injury lawyers understand that overall motor vehicle deaths are up 5 percent nationwide, according to the National Safety Council, which released its report earlier this month.

In 2012, the number of traffic deaths totaled 36,000, a sharp increase from the 34,600 recorded the previous year. Injuries and costs too were up by about the same amount, with injuries reaching the 4 million mark and economic damages nearing $277 billion (including productivity and wage losses, property damage, medical expenses and employer costs).

As it stands, motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 34.

This is troubling enough. Then we learned that Alabama actually ranks third in the country for the most dangerous state in which to drive, just behind Mississippi and Montana, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Wyoming and Arkansas round out the top five most dangerous states to drive in.)

Alabama’s average motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 is about 22 (Mississippi is 27 while Montana is about 23). We have an average of 1,015 fatal traffic crashes each year, which is the 11th highest in the country. When it comes to lifetime medical costs due to one year of auto accidents, we’re talking about $8.2 million statewide. Work losses reach nearly $1 billion. The percentage of commuters we have in this state traveling in stretches of a half hour or more is about 33 percent.

Still, it does appear we are doing some things right. The state has a 92 percent seatbelt usage rate. That may account for some of the reason that the National Safety Council reported we saw a 1.5 percent dip in the number of overall traffic fatalities from 845 in 2011 to 833 in 2012. But it’s still an increase from where we were in 2010, with 831 traffic-related deaths.

The CDC also points to several legislative shortfalls in Alabama. Specifically, Alabama has no requirement of booster seats for children ages 8 and under. Additionally, we don’t have mandated ignition interlock devices for all drunk drivers (not just repeat offenders). These are simple measures with relatively little implementation cost that could serve to significantly reduce the number of people dying on our roads each and ever day.

In terms of the most dangerous time of year, hands-down, it’s the summer – June, July and August. That doesn’t mean we should let our guard down throughout the rest of the year. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that more than a third of all traffic fatalities in Alabama can be directly traced back to driver distraction.

Make a commitment, right here and now, to be a better driver. Put down your cell phone. Refuse to answer that text. Don’t get behind the wheel drunk, pay attention to where you’re going and keep your speed legal.

Additional Resources:

Motor-vehicle deaths up 5% in 2012, Feb. 19, 2013, Tuscaloosa Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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