Car Crashes in the US
The social and economic environments have changed tremendously over the last few decades with people getting more and more in love with cars as time passes, unaware of the effects such kind of an affair can have on their lives. For many years, car crashes have been among the major fatalities all over the world and particularly in the US. Car crashes can severely change the lives of the victims who may include the driver, the passenger and other third party/pedestrians. According to Alvord (2000) car crashes were rated as the ninth-leading cause of deaths in 1990 in the world, but with the rate increasing as more cars get to the road, car crashes are expected ranked third by the year 2020. Apart from deaths, the crashes are rendering many people across the world disabled and helpless, as well as causing post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder. In the US, car crashes are ranked as the leading cause of death, for instance, half of the deaths related to accidents result directly from car crashes. However, the statistics vary from one state to another with some states showing a decline in the last few years while others showing a surge in the number of crashes.
Various factors are involved in the occurrence of car crashes and they may include medical conditions, drunk driving, bad weather, over speeding, age and/or experience, car failure/breakdown and road condition. Epileptic condition has been one of the major causes of medical related car crashes in the US. Alcohol related car crashes have been on the increase with many drunk drivers causing many deaths and injuries each year. For instance, drunk driving is caused over 39% of fatal accidents and 7% of all accidents in 2004 in the US. Although bad weather conditions such as rains and fog may hinder visibility and thus cause accidents, their number is less compared to the number of crashes caused by over speeding. Over speeding may be very fatal especially when one encounters and event that requires application of emergency breaks especially when the same is coupled with slippery road surface. For instance Alvord (2000, p. 119) views that as the speed of the vehicle is increased, the risk of car crash increases as evidenced by the 15% rise in crashes in 1995 after the speed limit was raised.
The use of mobile phone while driving distracts the driver’s attention on the road thus increasing the chances of crashes. In addition, the driver’s attention on the road may be disrupted by sleepiness such that a driver who is sleep is likely to doze off and cause car crash. Moreover, the condition and design of the car may have a bearing on the risk of car crash with some cars having higher risk of rolling than others.
The age of the driver also matters, for instance, old people above the age of 70 years are more likely to cause car crashes related to angle, overtaking and intersection crashes due to their failing physical ability (i.e. their reaction rate is slow), despite their vast experience on the road. On the other hand, teenagers are also likely to cause car crashes due to lack of experience and carelessness.
The effect of road crashes in the US has been worrying especially considering that many lives are being lost daily while other people are left nursing fatal injuries. According to Boone and Modarres (2006, p. 147), the US fatalities caused by the car crash have averaged 40,000 which include both the onboard persons and the pedestrians, although the numbers differ from one state to another. For instance, in states like Minnesota, Missouri and New Hampshire, the rate decreased in 2006 by 12%, 13% and 23% respectively while states Vermont, Wyoming and Delaware, the rate of fatalities increased by 19%, 15% and 11% respectively (Insure.com, 2009).
Despite these crashes and fatalities statistics, the federal government has always been alert to establish measures aimed at curbing the rate of car crashes. These measures include mandatory seat belts, crackdown on unlicensed drivers, fixing of speed limits on various roads, curbing drunk driving and age restrictions.