Car accident deaths have been rising across the U.S., including in Georgia, according to new data from the National Safety Council. There were 1,540 reported deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents in Georgia last year, a 10 percent increase from 2015.
Across the country, there was a 6 percent increase in traffic deaths from 2015 to 2016, making last year the first year with more than 40,000 motor vehicle deaths since 2007.
What is causing the increase? One factor might not be necessarily a bad thing: more people are driving, due to lower gas prices and a relatively healthy economy. But the NSC also points to a range of common risky behaviors, including:
- Texting while driving
- Driving after drinking or using marijuana.
The NSC, a nonprofit that has been studying traffic accidents for almost a century, has plenty of ideas about what can be done to reduce fatal accidents. They've issued a number of recommendations for keeping the roads safer, including banning cell phone use while driving, requiring ignition interlock devices for anyone who has been convicted of a DUI and cracking down on speeding.
The NSC estimates that in addition to the more than 40,000 people who died in traffic accidents last year, around 4.6 million people were injured. This is about a 7 percent increase over 2015.
And as anyone who has been in a car accident knows, they can be costly. As a nation, the cost of all motor vehicle accidents - including medical experiences, property damage, wage loss and other costs - was more than $432 billion in 2016, up 12 percent from 2015.
Whether these stats encourage tougher laws or not, all drivers can heed this wake-up call to cut down on risky behaviors and drive defensively.