Austin: most dangerous driving days coming up fast
Fear is growing among safety experts that the summer of 2017 could set a record for traffic deaths. In Austin, distracted drivers are a particular concern. Austin police handed out 99 citations in one day to drivers using electronic devices while driving in early 2017.
Each day in the U.S., distracted drivers kill “over 8 people” and injure 1,161, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). New smart phone technologies are adding significantly to the toll. They are on the increase. The Pew Research Center reports that the number of Americans with smart phones rose from 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2017.
Over 43%” of Austin’s population is “between the ages of 18 and 44,’ according to its Chamber of Commerce. It includes those most likely to use smart phone apps while driving– teens and millenials. Facebook, Google Maps, Snapchat and others are hard for these drivers “to resist.”
Seasonal driving, the economy add to the danger
Statistics show that the 100 days from Memorial Day to the start of school are the most dangerous for drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says there are nearly twice as many automotive deaths over the summer, compared to the rest of the year. It calls the 4th of July “one of the deadliest days on U.S. roadways.”
Summer always adds more drivers to the nation’s roads. Recently, so has an improving economy. CNN reported car sales broke records in 2015 and 2016. The big jump in sales has added even more cars to American roads, increasing the likelihood of more accidents.
Will distracted drivers break death toll records?
Safety experts fear traffic deaths will break the record set in 2016 when they hit a 50 year high. The death tolls in 2015 and 2016 represent the biggest two-year jump in fatalities on American roads since 2007, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reported more than 40,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2016.
Distracted drivers killed 3,477 people and injured an estimated 391,000 in 2015. They caused 10% of all fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes and 14% of all accidents reported to the police. Alcohol related crashes kill 28 people every day in the United States and more than half of the 21,022 people killed in auto accidents in 2014 weren’t wearing seat belts. In 2015, 27% of all motor vehicle deaths involved speeding.
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