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Opinion & Editorial

Traffic Deaths Spike to Unsettling High

Over the last ten years, vehicle safety technology has improved by leaps and bounds. Electronic stability systems, rearview cameras, and better airbags are just a few of the innovations that have helped protect occupants in collisions. Despite the improved safety of modern cars, the number of Americans killed in traffic crashes have been on the rise. The National Safety Council estimates that a shocking 40,200 Americans were killed in car crashes last year, a six percent increase from 2015.

The last time that traffic fatalities were this high was almost ten years ago in 2007, the year before the economy plummeted. The fatality jump can be partially attributed to lower gas prices and an improving economy. These two factors increased the total miles driven by three percent last year, which creates more opportunities for crashes.

The improving economy alone cannot explain such a massive jump. The real culprit here is an increase in distracted driving. A decade ago, talking on cell phones presented a large obstacle to driver safety. Now, other apps like Facebook and Snapchat are diverting drivers’ attention away from the road. Texting and social media have proved to be even deadlier distractions for drivers.

Automakers have been working on new safety innovations like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and blind spot monitoring. But these solutions are only stopgaps if distracted driving continues to remain a problem.

All traffic collisions are preventable, and putting away our phones can help reverse this troubling trend.


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