Drivers in the U.S. logged 3.2 trillion miles last year – a record that rounds out the fifth straight year in mileage increases nationally. That’s according to the Federal Highway Administration, which underscored the demands facing America’s roads and bridges, reaffirming the need for updates and investment in infrastructure.
This coincides with rising car accident rates across the country. Early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on 2015 total crashes reveal 6.3 million police-reported accidents that year, resulting in 35,100 deaths and 2.45 million injuries. That is one fatality every 15 minutes, or a total of 96 daily. While the highest-severity crashes declined about 17 percent from 2006 to 2015, there was a seven percent hike in the number of fatal crashes from 2014 to 2015. There was also a four percent uptick in the number of non-fatal injury crashes and a 3.7 percent increase in the number of property damage-only crashes that same year. The overall number of police-reported crashes climbed by nearly four percent. The federal agency notes this is a statistically significant increase.
The estimated economic cost (including lost productivity, medical costs, emergency services, insurance administration costs, congestion costs, legal expenses, and societal harm) of car accidents as of 2010 was $836 billion. This is astronomical. Individuals and families directly affected by these losses absorb the brunt of this burden.
Our Charlotte car accident attorneys are committed to helping crash victims recover their financial footing after a serious collision caused by the negligence of another driver.
The impact of these figures is out-sized in North Carolina, where the North Carolina Department of Transportation reports the state maintains one of the largest highway systems in the nation, with some 80,000 miles of highway across the state. That is the equivalent of circling the Earth three times. This includes some 15,000 miles of primary highways, as well as 65,000 miles of secondary roads. NCDOT is also responsible for overseeing 13,500 bridges and 4,500 culverts.
FHWA data from January 2017 shows the South Atlantic region, which includes North and South Carolina, as well as Florida, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia, saw a 4.3 percent rise in vehicle traffic volumes that month compared to the same month one year before.
If this trend continues, we’re on track to see even higher traffic volumes in 2017.
A report by the Charlotte Observer in 2014 reveals the state’s bridges were already in need of repair. The majority of the state’s bridges were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s. Most bridges are only meant to last about 50 years as it is. However, the increase in traffic has meant the decay of these structures is even further accelerated. In particular, rural bridges are at risk, with 30 percent rated as substandard. That was according to a study that year by transportation researchers at TRIP. To replace all of the bridges deemed substandard, it would cost an estimated $16 billion. Even if the state sought to just repair or preserve those substandard structures rather than totally replacing them, we’d still be looking at $11 billion. And it’s not certain how much longer those structures would last.
Six years ago, the state did launch a program to invest $450 million in bridge repairs and improvements, but that has only scratched the surface of the issue.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
3.2 Trillion Miles Driven On U.S. Roads In 2016, Feb. 21, 2017, FHWA
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$12.7M Verdict for Defective Road Condition to be Revisited, March 22, 2017, Charlotte Accident Lawyer Blog