U.S. traffic related fatalities have rose for the second straight year in a row. The National Safety Council (“NSC”) previously reported in 2015 that the U.S. was on pace for the deadliest driving year since 2007, as there was a 14% surge in fatal car wrecks in the first six months of 2015 than there were during the same period in 2014.
40,200 people died in car wrecks in 2016, a 6% increase from the prior year. If the estimates are confirmed, it will be the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 people died in car wrecks in a single year. The 2016 total comes after a 7% rise in 2015 and means the two year increase of 14% is the largest in more than a half century.
So, what’s behind the increase in traffic related fatalities? There could be several factors. Some industry leaders believe the answer is pretty simple. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Allstate Chief Executive Tom Wilson and his answer to the problem was a logical equation, “more miles driven, more cars on the road, more accidents.” This could be a contributing factor. Logically following, lower gas prices would equate to more cars on the road.
However, according to the Federal Highway Administration travel has only increased by approximately 3.5%. There is a pretty significant difference between a low 3.5% increase in travel and a high 14% increase in traffic related fatalities.
So what could be the blame? If you ask me, the answer is distracted driving! The Oracle From Omaha himself, Warren Buffet, also believes that distracted driving is the blame for rise in traffic related fatalities.
Many of you may be wondering what’s the link between Warren Buffet and distracted driving. Well, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway owns Geico Insurance Company (“Geico”), and Geico recently raised their premiums to offset the expenses associated with the increase in car wrecks. For those of you who do not know, Mr. Buffet is a genius when it comes to knowledge of factors that effect his investments, so it only makes since for Warren Buffet to explore statistics to find the true reason behind the increase of traffic related fatalities that effecting his bottom line. “If cars are better—and they clearly are—drivers must be worse,” said Mr. Buffet in a recent email. Like myself, Warren Buffet finds it hard to draw any other conclusion than distracted driving to explain increased fatalities on the road given that there has only been a slight 3% change in mileage driven.
Distracted driving is no longer a problem that we can ignore. Despite the fact that most states have laws in place that prohibit texting driving, the NSC estimates that one and four car wrecks stems from cell phone usage.
In 2015, I wrote a blog post discussing the elephant on the road that’s killing drivers, distracted driving. Distracted driving includes more than texting and driving. It’s watching YouTube videos, taking selfies, snap chatting, and scrolling up and down your social media timelines. The list goes on.
The next time you find yourself scrolling through your timeline while driving, please stop and direct your attention back to the road. Lives depend on it.