There are roughly 6 million auto accidents on U.S. roadways each year. These crashes can range from minor fender benders in parking lots, to multi-car pileups on major highways resulting in serious injuries, or worse. Sadly, for the first time since the Great Recession, the U.S. has experienced three consecutive years of at least 40,000 people losing their lives due to vehicle crashes.
According to USA Today, though the estimates are not official federal figures, which are released later in the year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the report outlines the emerging consensus among state and federal policymakers that traffic fatalities constitute a public health crisis that should not be ignored or tolerated.
“We’re treading water, essentially,” said Maureen Vogel, spokesperson for the National Safety Council. “We’re not making progress.”
The three most common causes of auto accidents in the U.S. remain speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving. Younger, more inexperienced drivers are more susceptible to getting into accidents as well. In their first year on the road, teens are almost 10 times more likely to be involved in an accident. Similarly, drivers and passengers not wearing their seat belts result in much higher fatality numbers, as well.
“This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us,” added Deborah A.P. Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council. “The only acceptable number is zero; we need to mobilize a full-court press to improve roadway safety.”
Though roadway fatalities are a national concern, there are certain states that have far too many auto accidents resulting in loss of life. Here are some of the most dangerous states for auto accidents:
- Wyoming — Wyoming is the most dangerous state when it comes to fatal roadway incidents. With 28.62 average fatalities in a year (per 100,000) — 2,446 in total. Additionally, 38.35% of those fatalities can be attributed to impaired driving.
- South Carolina — South Carolina has 62% more fatal car accidents than the national average. Total fatalities: 15,292 (21.66 average fatalities in a year per 100,000). And 42.41% of these accidents involved alcohol.
- Mississippi — Mississippi sees about 26.42 average fatalities in a year (per 100,000), resulting in a total number of 12,359. Approximately 23.47% of these fatal crashes involved alcohol.
“[40,000] deaths is unacceptable,” added Nicholas Smith, interim president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We cannot afford to tread water anymore. We know what works, but we need to demonstrate the commitment to implementing the solutions. Roadway deaths are preventable by doubling down on what works, embracing technology advancements and creating a culture of safer driving.”