Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. As a Greeville car accident attorney, I’m always looking for ways to help people be safer drivers.
Here’s the Insurance Institute’s list of seven often-overlooked safety measures that states could enact and enforce to reduce road fatalities, according to news reports:
1 — Enact safety-belt laws: Using safety belts is the single most effective way to reduce deaths and injuries in crashes. Safety belts saved 12,713 lives in 2009, NHTSA estimates. If all passenger vehicle occupants 5 and older involved in fatal crashes had been restrained, an additional 3,688 lives could have been spared. Today 32 states and the District of Columbia have primary belt laws. Rhode Island is the latest state to upgrade to primary enforcement. In other jurisdictions, police must have another reason to stop a vehicle before citing an occupant for failing to buckle up. Only New Hampshire lacks a belt law.
2 — Mandate helmets for all motorcycle: Helmets saved the lives of 1,483 motorcyclists in 2009, NHTSA estimates. If all motorcyclists had worn them, an additional 732 lives could have been saved. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers.
3 — Toughen teen driver laws: Teenage drivers have the highest crash risk per mile traveled, compared with drivers in other age groups. One proven way to reduce this risk is through graduated licensing laws. Most states license at 16, 16½, or somewhere in between, and a few license younger than 16. Only New Jersey waits until 17, which lowers fatal and injury crash rates per population among 16 to 17 year-olds.
4 — Lower speed limits: Speeding was a factor in 31 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths during 2009, and 10,591 lives were lost in crashes related to speeding. Lowering speed limits has been proven to reduce fatalities while raising them has the opposite effect.
5 – Automated enforcement: A proven way to curb speeding and red light running is to use cameras to enforce traffic laws. The most common use in the U.S. is at intersections to record red light violations. Red light running killed an estimated 676 people and injured an estimated 130,000 in 2009. Red light cameras saved 159 lives in 2004-08 in the 14 biggest U.S. cities with cameras, a February 2011 Institute analysis shows.
6 — Sobriety checkpoints: The proportion of fatally injured drivers with blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08% percent has remained about a third since 1994 after declining from nearly half during 1982. The Institute estimates 7,440 deaths would have been prevented in 2009 if all drivers had blood alcohol levels 0.08 %.
7 — Build roundabouts: Used in place of stop signs and traffic signals, these circular intersections can improve traffic flow and safety. Where roundabouts have been installed, crashes have fallen about 40 percent, and injury-related crashes have slid about 80 percent. Some of the most common types of intersection crashes are right-angle, left-turn, and head-on collisions. These can be severe because vehicles may be traveling at high speeds. Roundabouts eliminate many potentially serious crashes because vehicles travel in the same direction and at much slower speeds. Keeping vehicles moving also reduces travel delays, fuel consumption, and air pollution.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact a personal injury lawyer in Greenville.