For the last 50 years or so, car accident fatalities have generally trended down. There are fewer and fewer of them every year, with a handful of short-term expectations. In a country as large as the U.S., this still means that there are over 30,000 fatalities per year, but the long-term trends show them dropping.
That is what makes the short-term trends so concerning. There was an increase of 7% from 2019 to 2020. Some increases do happen, so experts wondered at the time if it was an aberration. However, the fatalities then went up again between 2020 and 2021, this time rising by 10%. Then, when comparing 2021 to the beginning of 2022, reports found that the rate had increased yet again.
It was clearly not an aberration. But why are these serious crashes suddenly becoming more common?
An increase in reckless driving behaviors
It doesn’t appear that cars themselves are becoming less safe. In fact, in most cases, cars are safer than they ever have been. Some types of self-driving technology have proven dangerous, such as the software systems used by Tesla. But many advancements help drivers avoid crashes, with a common example being blind spot monitoring sensors.
What has led to the increase in fatal accidents is that people are just taking more risks. They are engaging in reckless driving behaviors. As long as drivers are willing to take these risks, there is only so much that auto design can do to keep them safe. Examples of dangerous behaviors that are happening at a higher rate include:
1. Breaking the speed limit
2. Reading text messages
3. Changing lanes in an aggressive manner
4. Intentionally running red lights
5. Using cannabis or alcohol and then driving
6. Not wearing a seatbelt in the car
Most of these things can make an accident more likely, while some of them, such as not wearing a seatbelt, just increase the likelihood of a fatality. But either way, it is these activities that are causing the increase in deadly accidents. If you have lost a loved one due to the recklessness and negligence of another driver, then you need to know if you can seek financial compensation.