Increase in traffic deaths nationwide blamed on distracted drivers

Dangerous driving behaviors like speeding, drinking and driving, and driving while distracted put the lives of not only the drivers who commit such driving violations in danger but also other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. While it’s difficult to accurately assess just how many drivers are distracted prior to getting into a traffic accident, there’s growing evidence that the proliferation in cellphone use in general and among U.S. drivers is likely a major factor in the reported increase in total U.S. traffic deaths.

According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths during 2015 increased by eight percent over 2014 totals. U.S. billionaire and Geico Insurance owner, Warren Buffett, is among those who believe that this increase reflects the fact that, today, more U.S. drivers are driving while distracted.

In addition to an increase in the number of overall traffic fatalities, preliminary data suggests that the number of pedestrians who were killed during 2015 also increased nationwide by 10 percent over 2014 numbers. While Connecticut was actually among the 21 states that reported a decrease in pedestrian fatalities, 26 states experienced an increase. Even more troubling is the fact that fatal pedestrian accidents in four states, including California, Texas, New York, and Florida, accounted for 42 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.

When it comes to suffering injuries or death at the hands of a distracted driver, pedestrians are especially vulnerable targets. A driver who is checking a text message or fiddling with a GPS device may only look away from the road for a few seconds. However, this short amount of time provides ample opportunity for a pedestrian who has the right of way to step off of the curb and into the path of a distracted driver.

Source: Connecticut Post, “Pedestrian deaths rise nationwide; Drop in Connecticut,” Amanda Cuda, March 14, 2016

Connecticut Post, “Buffett says distracted driving is a growing problem,” Feb. 29, 2016

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