Schmitt Law Firm, LLC - Kansas City personal injury attorneys

Crossing a deadly threshold for car accidents

In 1963, the United States saw more than 40,000 people killed in motor vehicle accidents. Unsurprisingly, Americans traveled more miles by car that year than any year before, more than 805 billion miles. Total car accident fatalities only fell below the 40,000 mark once between 1963 and 2007. Then, starting in 2008, the U.S. began an unprecedented run of eight years with fewer than 40,000 fatalities. That is despite Americans driving more 2,950 billion miles in each of those years. Unfortunately, the run of lower fatalities has ended. In 2016, deaths on U.S. roads once again rose over the 40,000 mark, according to the National Safety Council.

Unsafe driving habits to blame

The increase in fatal crashes has led some experts to call for renewed emphasis on preventing texting and driving. The NSC released a survey reporting that nearly half of all drivers are comfortable texting while driving. Multiple studies have demonstrated that texting and driving is an unsafe activity. Still, motorists are more likely to text and drive than engage in other unsafe activities, including drinking and driving, speeding on residential streets and driving or riding without a seatbelt. 

Technology has played a prominent role in reducing traffic fatalities. Accidents are easier to avoid and less likely to cause a death when they do occur. Technology has not yet progressed to the point where a driver is not needed. The vast majority of highway fatalities are caused by human error. Drivers need to make better decisions to reduce deadly collisions.

A total ban

Texting bans have not been effective in stemming the tide of distracted driving deaths. The National Safety Council renewed its call for a total ban of mobile phone use by drivers. A driver should not attempt to split his or her attention between phone-related activities, including even hands-free calls, and operating the motor vehicle. A total ban of all cell phone use would also make it much easier for law enforcement officials to police drivers. Texting bans are notoriously difficult to enforce.

The increase in fatalities is concerning. Clearly, more work needs to be done to make American roads safer. 

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Ben Schmitt

Attorney Ben Schmitt

Mr. Schmitt has over 25 years of legal experience in Missouri and Kansas, and he has been first chair in over 100 jury trials in state and federal courts. He is recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal, Super Lawyers, and Martindale Hubbell as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.