The risk of death in a car accident is going up dramatically, for the first time in a long time. There have been declines in car accident fatalities as cars have gotten safer and as advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) helped to stop motorists from driving drunk.
Unfortunately, between 2015 and 2016, there was a dramatic rise in car accident fatalities. In the first six months of 2016, there were 10.4 percent more car accident deaths than during the first six months of 2015, according to New York Times. The increase was the biggest percent increase in auto accident deaths in 50 years. One big reason why this happened: new technology!
There is lots of evidence to suggest new technology is helping to dramatically increase death rates in auto accidents. Five big reasons why new tech may be to blame for more people dying in car accidents include the following:
- More people have smart phones. According to PC World, 68 percent of adults owned a smartphone in 2015, compared with 35 percent of adults who owned a smartphone four years ago.
- More people are using smartphones. According to National Safety Council (NSC), at any given moment, nine percent of drivers are on their phones.
- More apps have the effect of encouraging distracted driving. There is an app called Waze which gives points to motorists who report things like traffic jams. Drivers may use their app to report traffic as they drive through it, thus taking their focus off the road at one of the worst possible times when they're closely packed in with other cars. Accidents have also happened because people were using Snapchat to post videos of themselves dramatically exceeding speed limits. In one case, a teen driver took a Snapchat video of her going more than 100 MPH and shortly after the video, she was involved in a collision resulting in five deaths.
- More cars are incorporating in-vehicle infotainment systems. The president of National Safety Council told New York Times this could potentially be a safety problem because the systems encourage more interaction with their phones, even though the systems are ostensibly supposed to improve safety by making things hands-free.
- Most people don't realize they're still in danger if they're using hands-free devices. Motorists think this is safe, but NSC warns motorists who are distracted can see 50 percent less of what is around them due to less brain energy focused on driving. This is true even if their hands are on the wheel and if their eyes are on the road while they are using a hands-free device.
These five reasons why technology is causing rising auto accident rates should be enough to convince any motorist NOT to drive while distracted by technology any more... especially in light of the rising death rates!