Last year, 35,092 people died on U.S. highways. Up 7.2 percent from 2014, the spike in deaths is the largest single-year increase in traffic fatalities since 1966. The U.S. Department of Transportation cites increased distractions from cell phones as one reason for the rise in deaths.
Michigan drivers may be interested to learn that on Oct. 5, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a traffic safety plan. The early stages of the plan call for increasing rumble strips, grooves or bumps in the road that warn drivers when they veer out of their lane, and for raising awareness about the importance of wearing seat belts. There will also be increased efforts to educate the public about the dangers of driving while drunk or distracted. Ultimately, the goal of the agency is to have no deaths or injuries from motor vehicle accidents in 30 years.
Michigan drivers should already be aware that texting and driving is illegal within the state. In order to take further actions to prevent distracted driving, a state representative has sponsored a bill that would make it illegal for drivers to engage in cellphone-to-ear conversations.
Older Michigan drivers may benefit from new innovative vehicle safety features such as automatic robotic braking and oncoming traffic detection systems. While certain model vehicles already carry smart technology such as blind-spot warning systems, more of these features will be required for new cars by 2020, according to reports.
According to government data, 2015 was not a good year for drivers in Michigan and across the United States. That's because the number of individuals killed on the nation's highways rose by 7.2 percent from 2014.
Road safety campaigns in Michigan and around the country in recent years have generally focused on reducing crashes caused by drunk or intoxicated motorists. However, drowsy driving remains a serious threat to all road users according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The report, which was published on Aug. 8, reveals that more than 80 million fatigued Americans get behind the wheel each day. Such drivers cause accidents that claim the lives of 5,000 road users every year.
According to one survey of high school age drivers, 70 percent of them admitted to use phone apps while behind the wheel of their vehicle. Respondents to the survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions said that sending a text message was among the top dangers on the road, a view that is shared by most Michigan motorists. However, only 6 percent said that using social media is the most distracting behavior while driving.
Residents of the Detroit metropolitan area may feel as though their roads can be unsafe, and they're not alone. A July report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a disturbing trend on American roadways, one the organization referred to as a 'serious public health issue." According to the CDC, the United States has the highest rate of car accident fatalities among high-income countries, as well as the second-highest percentage of traffic deaths attributed to alcohol. The U.S. also came out on top in crash death rates per 10,000 registered vehicles.
A truck driver told authorities he was watching another truck exiting the freeway at Stoney Lake Road when he hit a Subaru Outback and a Mazda 6 with his semi on Route 31. The crash took place at about 12:45 p.m. on July 5 near the small Michigan town of New Era, and seven people were injured in the accident. All five occupants of the Outback were injured and taken to the hospital for treatment.