In a terrifying new report released last week by the National Safety Council, the rate of Connecticut motor vehicle fatalities increased by 45 percent in the first 6 months of 2016 as compared to the same time period in 2015. There were 138 deaths from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2016 - an alarming increase compared to 95 last year. The study indicated that private vehicles are toward the top of the list of most dangerous ways to travel.
Nationally, during the first six months of the year, motor vehicle deaths have risen just 9 percent over 2015.
Gas prices in the first six months of 2016 were historically low - 16 percent lower than prices in the first half of 2015. This produced a 3.3 percent increase in miles driven by vehicles.
AAA Northeast, after viewing the report, adds that drivers tend to speed, are easily distracted, aren't focused, and levels of civility on the road have diminished. They added that they're surprised the death totals aren't higher due to such driver misbehavior and more people on the road. AAA Northeast also noted that the I-95, 91 and 84 corridors have an increased amount of traffic due to commuters who are working in cities where they can't afford to reside, and the bad road conditions contribute to more accidents.
The Connecticut Public Interest Research Group states that the data about vehicle deaths should be a "wake-up call" to not only drivers, but our nation and its infrastructure. The United States Public Interest Research Group said we should focus resources on safer modes of transportation - biking, walking, and public transit - rather than focusing funds trying to widen highways, thereby encouraging more driving.
Staying safe on the road
If more people are going to be on the road for the foreseeable future, what can you do to stay safe?
- Get a full night's sleep, and don't drive while overly tired
- Always wear a seatbelt and encourage any passengers to do so
- Avoid distractions by never using your phone to text or call - pull over at a rest stop or take an exit to find a safe place to park
- Always plan for a designated driver, and if plans change, find a taxi or ride service
In addition, to get some civility back into driving, try to be patient with other drivers. Be as courteous as possible while still being safe - watch the road around you for other cars, pay attention to what they're doing and it never hurts to let someone merge in front of you or pass. Stay safe!