Road Deaths Rising for the Second Consecutive Year

We hear a lot about self-driving cars and other advances in technology that should make us safer on the roads.

However, the figures don’t support our aspirations for safer roads. Recently, Associated Press reported that traffic fatalities rose 9 percent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year.

crash on Jefferson Avenue in Newport News

Crash at Jefferson Avenue and Lee Street in Newport News (Newport News Fire Department)

The National Safety Council states the increase in deaths continues a surge in fatalities that began two years ago as the economy revived and travel picked up.

Preliminary statistics suggest about 19,100 people were killed on U.S. roads from January through June. The nonprofit gets its data from state authorities. The figure represents an alarming 18 percent increase on two years ago at the six-month mark. As many as 2.2 million people also were seriously injured in the first half of this year.

Although the improved economy means more drivers are on the road, and more miles are being driven, it’s still alarming that advances in technology are not cutting the death toll.

And, at the same time, the rising number of distractions such as smartphone apps mean distracted driving has become a huge problem.

The council puts the cost of these deaths and injuries at about $205 billion.

If the trend continues, the annual death toll on the roads could exceed 40,000 fatalities this year for the first time in nine years, the council said. More than 35,000 people were killed on U.S. roads last year, making it the deadliest driving year since 2008, when more than 37,000 were killed.

If these many people died in any other way there would likely be an outcry. But society seems to accept road deaths too readily. Or as Deborah A.P. Hersman, the safety council's president and CEO, stated our complacency is killing us.

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, warned the increase in road deaths and injuries is reaching a crisis level.

The advances in vehicle safety seem to be undermined by distracted and drunk driving and other errors.

The council predicted that 438 people would die on the nation's roads over the three-day Labor Day weekend that started on Sept. 2.

That would make it one of the deadliest Labor Day weekends to date. So far we have not seen a spate of serious accidents in Hampton Roads, but there is no room for complacency.

If you have lost a loved one on the roads of Virginia or North Carolina or if you have been injured due to the fault of another driver, please call us today at (757) 455-0077 or see



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