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Why Do Traffic Fatalities Keep Increasing?

Traffic fatalities have been on the rise for the past three years, and 2016 held the highest number of vehicle deaths in nearly a decade.

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Cars are getting smarter and smarter, so why are traffic fatalities not going down?

Backup cameras are becoming a standard feature (any new models made after May 2018 are required to have them), lane departure warnings alert you when you're getting out of line, and some cars can literally drive themselves.

But even with all of these new safety features, 37,461 lives were lost in 2016 due to traffic related deaths.

That averages out to about 102 fatalities every day. That is a 5.6% increase from the previous year with 35,485 deaths in 2015.

Motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of death for children age 10, and teens and young adults from 16 to 23 in 2015.

So what contributed to this number? Let's take a look...

The three largest pieces of the puzzle are drunk driving, unbelted driving (not wearing a seatbelt), and speeding related deaths with totals of 10,497, 10,428, and 10,111 fatalities, respectively.

Some other enlightening statistics include the largest increases from previous years. Speeding related deaths increased by 4.0%, unbelted deaths increased by 4.6%, motorcyclist deaths increased by 5.1%, and pedestrian deaths increased by 9.0% (nhtsa).

So why don't we seem to be making any progress and how can we fix this?

There has been a steady increase in traffic fatalities in the past three years. The three highest categories have obvious solutions: don't drink and drive, always wear a seat-belt, and slow down. As individuals we have to all be more aware of how we're driving, and we can also not let our friends and family practice these dangerous habits.

Another habit to get rid of: Distracted Driving.

Paramount Pictures / Via

I am definitely guilty of checking my phone while I'm driving, becoming momentarily hypnotized when passing a field of cows, and everything just short of full-on productions of my favorite musicals where I am the leading lady (and literally every other character).

Taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at 55 mph is the equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed (nhtsa). Any form of distracted driving can be dangerous, even for just a few seconds - so just don't do it.

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