According to the Department of Transportation, there were 27,875 fatalities from motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roads throughout the first nine months of 2016. This report indicates that the number of people who died is nearly 8 percent higher than it was during the same period in 2015.
The increase in fatalities is not an issue that occurred in 2016 only, though. According to CNN Money, the number of fatal crashes in 2015 increased by 7.2 percent when compared to 2014. Although the study indicates that the roads are still much safer than they used to be decades ago, the increase in fatal crashes seen in 2016 is the largest gain in the last 50 years.
Some people might wonder how many people actually died, though. The New York Daily News indicated that there were 27,875 deaths during the first three quarters of 2016, which is more than 2,000 more when compared to the 25,808 deaths that occurred in 2015.
Nevertheless, the primary issue is not how many people have actually died, but what causes the number of deaths to increase each year.
“We still have to figure out what is underlying those lives lost. If it were simple, we would already know that,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator Mark Rosekind to the New York Daily News. Rosekind’s words clearly indicate that the problem has not been solved.
There are many reasons that could explain the number of crashes on our roads, but none of them have yet to confirm the cause of the number’s increase each year.
“It’s a very complex system, you can never say emphatically it’s these two or three things,” stated Director of Statistical Reporting at the National Safety Council Ken Kolosh to CNN Money.
Problems such as drunk driving, texting while driving, and speeding have all existed before; so they do not explain why more and more people die on U.S. roads with each passing year. Nevertheless, the number of deaths might be shocking for some people, and finding the reason why there are more of them each year could be the first step to solving the problem.
It is also possible that neither the distracting activities nor driving under the influence is causing the problem. Instead, the driving could be an issue in and of itself, as drivers might not possess adequate skills that could help them avoid dangerous situations when they arise.
The root of such an issue would then be the process of obtaining a driver’s license. If drivers cannot drive well enough to avoid crashes, the process of acquiring a license might simply be too easy.
The Orlando Sentinel used Finland as an example of a country with low accident rates even with their often very dangerous driving conditions due to the region’s climate. Unlike in the U.S., obtaining driver’s license is a relatively long process in Finland. The Sentinel indicates that to be eligible to apply for the driver’s license permit, you must complete a driving course that takes place over several weeks, requires prospective drivers to train on various surfaces, and pass both a theory and a driving test.
After completing these steps, a minimum of six months must pass before the person is permitted to take a driving test, which has to be passed in order to obtain the license.
The Sentinel also indicates that the country has a very strict law enforcement system as well. Having seat belts fastened is required for each of the passengers and if the driver is driving while intoxicated, their blood alcohol concentration level cannot be higher than .05, or else they are arrested and their license is immediately revoked.
However, having the rules might not be the key to making people safe but rather enforcing them as Finland does. Police can stop cars just to conduct random controls in order to check whether or not the drivers are following the rules.
Perhaps such a process makes drivers think twice before they decide to break the law, which causes the number of crashes in the country to be low as a result. It is possible that adopting some of Finland’s rules for obtaining a driver’s license and better enforcing the law could help the U.S. lower the increasing number of fatal crashes.