CDC: Motor Vehicle Deaths a “Winnable Battle,” But We Need a Stronger Fight

A reduction in motor vehicle accident deaths was one of the crowning public health achievements of the last century. U.S. public officials identified a serious problem and over the course of many decades, implemented a number of measures that would help lower those rates – and many of those efforts were largely successful.


However, they haven’t been 100 percent successful, and as the latest “Vital Signs” report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, there are still 32,000 who die annually in preventable crashes and another 2 million suffer serious injuries. These figures are especially troubling considered in light of the fact that the U.S. crash death rate is more than double the average of other high-income countries globally.

There are a number of issues at play here, and the CDC insists the number of deaths – which has stubbornly remained at the same level of more than a decade – could be driven down if we could collectively work harder to address some of these ongoing problems. 

Among the issues highlighted:

  • One in every three fatal crashes in the U.S. involves drunk driving or drug-impaired driving.
  • One in every three deadly crashes involves at least one speeding driver.
  • Front seat belt use in the U.S. is far lower than what was tallied for other countries. Failure to use seat belts, car seats and booster seats contributes to approximately 9,500 deaths every year.

Additionally, there are a disproportionate amount of crashes that involve teen drivers and an increasing number of collisions that in some way involve a distraction (mainly a smartphone).

To give you an idea of the disparity between the crash death figures in the U.S. as compared to countries like Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain and Australia: If the U.S. crash deaths equaled the average rate of 19 other nations deemed high-income, we’d have 18,000 fewer motor vehicle deaths every year.

Whereas the U.S. crash deaths dropped by 31 percent between 2000 and 2013, the average in those other countries was 56 percent. Every single day in the U.S., there are 90 people killed in car accidents, truck accidents and bus accidents.

The CDC, in calling this a “winnable battle,” noted it had recently sent out sate-specific fact sheets on both drunk driving and restraint use. In South Carolina, the agency noted that from 2003 to 2012, there were 7,195 vehicle occupants killed in car accidents (this figure doesn’t include pedestrians and bicyclists). Whereas nationally 10 percent of drivers killed are between the ages of 21 and 34, here it is 20 percent. In North Carolina, it’s 12.5 percent.

While 86 percent of front seat drivers nationally wear their seat belts, 91 percent do in South Carolina. In North Carolina, it’s 88 percent.

As for drunk driving, 3,870 in South Carolina were killed in drunk driving deaths between 2003 and 2012. That’s compared to 4,102 in North Carolina. A disproportionate number in both states were female and between the ages of 21 and 34. The agency has urged an increase in sobriety checkpoints across the country.

Nationally, while motor vehicle crash deaths among children under 12 fell by 43 percent from 2002 to 2011, there were still more than 9,000 children who died during that time frame. In looking at why these tragedies continue to occur, the CDC released a report indicated 1 in 3 children who died in crashes were not buckled up, and that this was a more serious problem in black and Hispanic communities.

So while there have been strides in some areas when it comes to reducing crash deaths, even one is too many. Our Anderson car accident lawyers will continue to fight for victims.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths, Vital Signs, July 2016, CDC

More Blog Entries:

Neslon v. Erickson – Recovery of Attorney Fees in Car Accident Lawsuit, Aug. 31, 2016, Anderson Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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