As the country continues the process of reopening, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently encouraged American drivers to exercise the same degree of responsibility toward highway safety when they return to the nation’s roads that they applied to fighting the spread of COVID-19 ().
In a typical year, over 36,000 people are killed on American roadways. Although we do not know the effect the pandemic will have on 2020 highway crash and fatality statistics, the lifting of travel restrictions will certainly lead to greater numbers of drivers on the road and increased risk for highway users.
“The number of traffic fatalities was a crisis before the pandemic,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “It has been inspiring to see Americans take dramatic steps to protect themselves and others during the coronavirus pandemic. We need the same resolve to stay safe when Americans increasingly take to the roads in the coming months.”
Sumwalt highlighted four major ways for drivers to stay safe:
- Don’t speed
- Don’t drive distracted
- Don’t drive impaired
- Always buckle up
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 10,000 fatalities in 2018 in accidents involving at least one driver who was speeding, 26 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year. Speeding not only greatly increases the chances of an accident, but also exacerbates the severity of injuries.
The NHTSA determined that distracted driving caused nearly 3,000 traffic deaths in 2018, and many experts believe these numbers are underreported. After months of staying connected only through electronic devices while remaining homebound, it is now time for drivers to put their phones away and focus on the road.
Over 25% of fatal crashes involve drivers impaired by alcohol. The NHTSA reported that 10,511 people died in accidents involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit in 2018. Drinking and driving affects the safety of more than the driver or their passengers – it endangers everyone on the road.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that seat belts reduce the risk of death in a traffic accident by 45 percent, and lessen the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. Wearing a seat belt is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself in the event of an accident.
“Just as we have taken precautions related to the pandemic, we must take precautions behind the wheel to prevent traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries,” Sumwalt said. “As we continue our journey to a ‘new normal,’ let’s keep ourselves and our neighbors safe by not speeding, not driving distracted, not driving while impaired, and by always wearing a seat belt.”
As our country attempts to recover from the effects of this deadly pandemic, please do your best to heed the safety advice provided by the NTSB. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.