How and Why Driving in America Has Become So Deadly

If you’ve noticed that driving nowadays is noticeably more dangerous than it has been in years’ past, you’re not alone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a study in 2021 that found the number of crashes in the United States soared 16% to more than six million, or roughly 16,500 wrecks a day. 

Somehow, the study found that fatality figures were even worse with nearly 43,000 Americans dying in car crashes in 2021, the highest toll in over 15 years. This means that after decades of declining fatality rates due to car crashes, dangerous driving has surged again and the need to be diligent and cautious behind the wheel of a car is more important than ever. A recent article published by the New York Times took a closer look into the realities of dangerous driving in today’s society, and here are some of the most critical findings of why and how it has become so dangerous behind the wheel of a car in America.

New cars are taller and heavier

The way cars are being built today is a major factor in why accidents can be much more dangerous nowadays. Even though cars have become stronger and less prone to spontaneously exploding than they used to be, they are now taller and heavier. In fact, according to the New York Times, pickup trucks have added an average of 1,300 pounds of curb weight since 1990, and the average full-size SUV now weighs around 5,000 pounds.

Additionally, the height of a vehicle can make a huge difference in an accident. To prove this point, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded in a study that SUVs or vans with a hood height greater than 40 inches (the standard-issue specs for an American truck in 2023) are 45% more likely to kill pedestrians than smaller cars with a height of 30 inches or less. 

Drivers are prone to speeding and can accelerate faster than ever before

The speed of vehicles has undergone substantial changes, particularly with the remarkable acceleration of the Rimac Nevera, currently the fastest accelerating car. It can reach 0 to 60 mph in an astonishingly brief 1.85 seconds. Heavier cars that are accelerating faster not only diminishes driver reaction time, but also amplifies the dangerous consequences of potential impacts.    

Speed limits are in place for a reason, but they only work if drivers are abiding by the guidelines. Unfortunately, recent data has shown that drivers are speeding more, on highways and on surface streets, and plowing through intersections with an alarming frequency. Some theories point to frustration and exacerbated personal conflicts due to sheltering in place during COVID-19, but whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that drivers who speed may lose control of their vehicle more easily and have less time to react if faced with a hazard or obstacle on the road. 

Distractions and carelessness are at an all-time high

Our digital society is one that has become addicted to instant news and alerts. Almost everyone has a smartphone and very few have the patience to wait until stopped to look at their incoming messages and other alerts on their phones. These distractions take away valuable seconds where drivers should have their eyes on the road and contribute to nearly 3,500 deaths annually

Another careless decision of drivers that can be deadly is the refusal to wear a seatbelt. This simple safety precaution has such a profound effect the NHTSA statistics show that using lap and shoulder seat belts can reduce your risk of severe injury by 50% or death by 45% if you get into a car accident.

Help on Long Island

From deadlier vehicles and faster speeds to a rise in impaired driving, impatience, carelessness, and road rage, it’s no wonder America’s streets are more dangerous now than ever before. Even if you are as diligent as possible behind the wheel, accidents can and do happen and you may find yourself in need of help from a personal injury lawyer. 

With decades of expertise as a personal injury attorney on Long Island, Mark T. Freeley excels in securing full and fair compensation for his clients, covering medical expenses, future care, loss of income, property damage, and any other considerations relevant to their claims. If you or someone you know was in a serious car accident on Long Island and needs an attorney, call Mark at 631-495-9435 for an honest conversation.