The National Safety Council (NSC) has released new traffic deaths in America, and it's not encouraging for drivers on the road. According to the NSC, in the first half of 2015 there's been a 15% jump in fatalities from last year. For the first time since 2007, the peak of traffic volume, deaths are set to shoot past 40,000 per annum. That's worrying for any of us who have to commute to work everyday, not to mention transport our children to and from school, etc. So what's to blame for the spike in traffic deaths?
There are several factors contributing to the rise in fatalities on the road this year. First off, lower gas prices have meant that more people will be driving overall, and at greater distances. In addition, jobs figures have moved in a positive direction, with the unemployment rate dipping to 5.1%, meaning that more people are driving to work. More traffic, put simply, translates to more accidents. But that doesn't explain everything - while road travel has increased 3.5%, deaths have surged almost five times that to 15%. All that points to another element in play.
Likely a key contributor to the upswing in traffic fatalities is the increased use of handheld mobile devices. Texting while driving, or distracted driving in general, greatly increases the likelihood of injury or death on the road. NSC research indicates that cell phone use was involved with a full quarter of all accidents on America's roadways. The proliferation of electronic gadgets and their applications, from text to games to social media platforms, pose an enormous "temptation" for drivers, notes NSC President Deborah Hersman, which, combined with the above-listed factors, is leading to a "perfect storm."
How can you protect yourself and your family on an increasingly dangerous road? For a start, make sure to drive defensively. Keep an adequate "cushion" of space between yourself and other drivers - always signal and look to make sure before switching lanes. Use your field of vision to look beyond what's immediately in front of you to keep a watch for any potential trouble or obstacles ahead. And if you remember one thing, put your smart phone down - no text or social media post is worth dying in an accident. Take charge now, and you can act to prevent foreseeable tragedy.