US Statistics on Car Accidents
More than 34,000 fatal car accidents occurred in 2008 compared to approximately 37,000 in the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
While there has been a notable decline in the rate of deaths caused by road crashes, the federal and local governments, together with non-profit organizations, are finding ways to further reduce the number of fatalities by studying different causes of traffic accidents.
In 2007, the NHTSA reported that nearly 13,000 people died in drunk driving accidents, a decline of 3.7 percent from approximately 13,500 in the previous year. However, alcohol-related accidents still accounted for 32 percent or almost one-third of fatal crashes in the country.
The department also revealed another surprising finding: three out of 10 Americans will encounter alcohol-related accidents in some point of their lives. This result is supported by police statistics showing that 1.4 million drunk drivers are arrested every year, accounting for only 1 percent of 159 million adults who admitted to have driven their cars while drunk.
The ramifications of drunk driving are serious as more than 700 people are injured while 36 die due to alcohol-related car accidents every day.
In terms of economic damages, the latest government statistics showed that drunk driving costs approximately $51 billion every year.
Several studies suggested that sleepy drivers are as dangerous as drunk drivers or traveling in a poor road condition.
One notable study revealed that the fatality rate during the night is three times higher compared during day time. Experts explained that at night, when people are supposed to be sleeping, drivers have slower reaction time and have diminished ability to focus.
This finding is supported by the NHTSA survey which showed that the deadliest period for motorists is between midnight to 3 am especially on Saturday and Sunday.
Another survey called "The 2008 Sleep in America Poll" showed that 64 percent of drivers admitted to drive their cars while feeling drowsy in the past year and another 36 percent said they actually fell asleep while driving.
Citing these results, the National Sleep Foundation said commercial drivers, individuals with sleeping disorders, graveyard shift workers, and young drivers are especially at high risk of being involved in crashes.
Texting while Driving
A nationwide study showed that 37 percent of drivers aged 18 to 27 admitted to texting while behind the wheel compared to 14 percent of people aged 28 to 44. With this finding, the researchers concluded that young drivers tend to be more reckless than adults.
The ramifications of text messaging while driving are serious. According to Clemson University Psychology Department which conducted a simulated study, drivers who were texting or using their iPods were 10 percent more likely to leave their lanes compared to those who have full concentration on the road.
Defective Auto Parts and Design
The Department of Transportation (DOT) revealed that 10,000 people die due to rollover crashes every year. With this finding, SUVs, which are four times more likely to overturn than low-roofed cars, are now required to have a stronger roof and lower height (to lower the center of gravity).
Furthermore, several government agencies have become more active in implementing and announcing product recalls to prevent accidents caused by defective auto parts.
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