The latest statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show a sharp increase in car accidents for both 2015 and 2016, ending a decade long trend of lower crash rates. The number of fatalities in 2016 was estimated at 40,000 – a six percent increase from the previous year. Consumer advocacy groups like the National Safety Council (NSC) are calling for stricter laws for everything from seat belts to a new system for licensing drivers under the age of 21. Vehicle miles traveled are up, meaning more people are on the road, but researchers are trying to determine what else could account for the dramatic rise in car crashes.
Insurers Blame Smartphone Use
Insurance companies conduct their own research, as in the case of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. State Farm has been surveying drivers about their driving habits for many years. In a study from 2015, State Farm found that 36 percent of the drivers they queried sent texts while behind the wheel. Another 29 percent admitted to using the internet while driving. Smartphone use in general has increased over the years. In 2011, 52 percent of drivers in the State Farm survey had a smartphone. The number of distracted drivers increased to 88 percent in the 2015 survey.
The Rise in Insurance Rates
Anyone with a teen driver in the family knows how automobile insurance rates have skyrocketed. The average premium is $926 – up 16 percent since 2011. The newest generation of drivers has never known a time when smartphones did not exist. They were texting before they were ever allowed to drive, and insurers think it will be difficult for them to resist using their phones in the car. If their parents are among the 36 percent in the survey texting and driving, then they may find that behavior acceptable.
At the Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management at the University of South Carolina, distracted driving is seen as an epidemic in the United States. Few people will admit to distracted driving, so the car accidents caused by those drivers drive up insurance premiums for everyone.
Complacency About Dangerous Driving Habits
The NSC’s own studies echo the results of the State Farm survey and the group is demanding a total ban of cellphone use while driving – even hands free systems. They are convinced that if Americans realized that there is a link between unsafe driving practices and the rising number of roadside fatalities, they might change their behavior. In a press conference the NSC said that when it comes to addressing fatal car accidents, the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world and can do much more.
Chester County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Fight for Victims of Distracted Driving
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries in a car accident that was due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The dedicated Chester County car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC will provide you with personalized legal representation to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Call 215-569-8488 today for a free consultation, or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, Haddonfield, New Jersey, and Wilmington, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.