Why more than one million Americans have died in car crashes since 1990

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Santa Ana police officers examine one of the cars involved in a fatal collision in Santa Ana, Calif. (Sam Gangwer/Orange County Register/AP)

Mayhem on America’s highways has taken the lives of just over one million people since 1990, a level of decimation that has gotten far less attention than the approximately 659,000 people struck down by AIDS since it began garnering headlines in the 1980s.

People have been dying on the roads ever since 1899, when Henry Hale Bliss was killed by a taxicab as he stepped off a streetcar at West 74th Street and Central Park West in Fresh York. He is on record as the victim of the very first traffic-related death in U.S. history. But these days, traffic fatalities generally are big news only when several people are killed in a crash.

The reasons about ninety people die in vehicle crashes every day — and that the number of deaths emerges to be enhancing — are described in a fresh survey scheduled to be released Thursday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Albeit the report slices the issues by category, it summarizes them with the observation that Americans harbor a “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude.

“There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” said Peter Kissinger, the AAA foundation’s president.

Albeit twenty percent of drivers have been involved in a crash that sent someone to a hospital and almost one in three people have friends or relatives who were killed or earnestly injured in one, the re­sponses demonstrate a fine disparity inbetween what people view as safe driving and what they do when behind the wheel themselves.

“When you do something dangerous time and time again without any negative consequences, it’s effortless to become conditioned to repeat that same behavior,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “That’s why strong laws and sustained, high-visibility enforcement are so critical.”

Most drivers — eighty three percent — say they drive more securely than other people on the road, but the AAA foundation survey found that:

●Almost everyone thinks drinking and driving don’t mix, but one out of eight drivers admitted that they have been close to or above the legal limit in the past year.

●Almost ninety percent of people think texting or emailing while driving is dangerous, but forty two percent said they had read a text or email while driving in the past month.

●Most people said that dissipated driving has become a thicker problem in the past three years, but seventy percent said they had talked on the phone while driving in the past month.

●Although speeding is a factor in about Ten,000 deaths per year, close to half of those surveyed said they were guilty of it on freeways and residential streets.

●Intersection collisions cause almost seven hundred deaths and 125,000 injuries, and drivers deplore people who run crimson lights, but thirty nine percent of those surveyed said that in the past month they had run a light that had just turned crimson, even tho’ they could have stopped securely.

●Virtually everyone sees sleepy driving as a serious threat to their safety, but more than thirty percent said they have had trouble keeping their eyes open while driving in the past thirty days.

“The crash data trends expose that traffic deaths, near misses with death, and road traffic injuries . . . are preventable,” said John B. Townsend II, an official at AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Road designs and features that made cars safer were credited with a fairly constant six-year decline in traffic deaths. Enlargened seat-belt use, air bags, anti-lock braking, stability controls that keep cars from rolling and a fresh generation of electronic warnings and cameras have been cited for cars being far safer than they were a generation ago.

The number of drivers and passengers killed in traffic crashes declined to 32,675 in two thousand fourteen — a record-low fatality rate of 1.07 deaths per one hundred million vehicle miles traveled — but preliminary numbers from last year demonstrate an alarming reversal of that trend.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration won’t accomplish its calculations for two thousand fifteen until later this year, but it says there was a 9.Trio percent increase in the very first three quarters of the year.

“NHTSA estimates that more than 26,000 people died in traffic crashes in the very first nine months of 2015, compared to the 23,796 fatalities in the very first nine months of 2014,” NHTSA said in a news release this month.

More safety features are installed with each fresh model year of vehicles, but Adkins cautioned that until somewhere down the road when cars are able to drive themselves, drivers still will make daily life-or-death decisions.

“Technology can help, but isn’t a magical cure,” Adkins said. “As more vehicles incorporate autonomous features, it is still critical that the driver stay engaged and be able to ‘jump in’ if necessary. With two in three drivers admitting they talk on their phone while driving, we won’t be able to fully employ the safety benefits of these advanced vehicle technologies unless there’s a dramatic culture switch.”

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