In the first part of 2016, there was a big increase in auto accident deaths compared with the same time span in 2015. This increase of 10.5 percent from 2015 to 2016 followed a rise in the number of fatalities that occurred between 2014 and 2015. In other words, this could be the second year where there is a big rise in auto accidents. As Reuters reports, if this trend holds as the rest of the data for 2016 comes in, this could mean hitting the threshold of more than 40,000 people in the United States dying in auto accidents in a single year.
Why are there so many fatalities happening? Reuters says experts have put forth a number of theories, including a rising number of people on U.S. roadways due to improved economic conditions and lower gas prices. If there are more people driving in total, it makes sense overall accident rates would rise since there are simply more people who have a chance of an accident.
Dangerous behaviors are also more likely to impact other motorists when cars are in close proximity to each other, which is the natural result of increased traffic. While there are lots of dangerous behaviors, one of the highest-risk behaviors motorists can engage in is distracted driving. This can be an especially big problem when there is elevated traffic volume.
When the traffic is heavier, which occurs when there are more motorists on the road, distracted driving is more likely to have serious consequences. Drivers in traffic need to be alert and watchful to what other motorists are doing. If they fail to pay attention because they are using their cell phones or distracted by any other electronic device, then they could be unable to avoid an obstacle or problem in their path, such as cars from a prior accident which has already occurred.
Unfortunately, distracted drivers are not only less likely to be alert to what is going on around them, but they may not see what is directly in front of their faces. Inattention blindness can happen because the brain is not good at multi-tasking. Drivers could see something, like a stopped car, but their brain won't process the information quickly enough for them to react fast if their brain is focused on something else... like talking on a phone. This means even when they observe problems, distracted drivers have delayed reaction times.
People on phones are not the only ones who suffer from these delayed reaction times. If you are using any kind of infotainment system or electronic device within your vehicle, chances are good you will not be focused enough on the road to avoid a distracted driving accident... especially in light of the higher traffic volume and higher-than-normal rate of accidents which has occurred over the past two years.