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Does a good economy cause a rise in traffic fatalities?

Experts at the National Safety Council expressed alarm at the deaths of nearly 19,000 people reported in traffic accidents across the U.S. during a six-month period in 2015. They see the statistics not as an aberration, but rather as a disturbing trend in the wrong direction.

People who plan to take the family on a road trip when vacation time rolls around should pay heed. The NSC researchers speculate that the cause of the increase in traffic accidents is in part to do with the economy.

Getting out and about

The correlation between a good economy and serious traffic accidents makes sense. When the economy is doing well, more people have jobs and, as a result, are driving to and from work each day. Gainfully employed people also have more disposable income, some of which they can spend on family vacations. That typically also means extended road trips, since a good economy also means lower gas prices. Drivers should keep in mind that data shows higher numbers of traffic fatalities during the summer months, September included.

Bad behavior influences statistics

One recent survey revealed that about 70 percent of the participants confirmed that they use their smartphones while they drive. Texting was the most common activity mentioned, but drivers also send and receive emails or go onto social media sites. As to texting, the NSC estimates that this particular activity increases the possibility of a car crash by eight times.

The bottom line 

Considering that a good economy combined with warmer weather will bring more road trippers out, drivers need to pay particular attention to safety considerations. Drivers should avoid texting, alcohol and speeding, and everyone in the vehicle should always wear their selt belts.

It's impossible to predict what other drivers will do, but defensive driving can mean the difference between a near-miss and a collision that ruins your vacation:

  • Drive the speed of traffic (unless everyone is going crazy fast)
  • Maintain a safe distance (the three-second rule) behind the next car
  • Anticipate cars switching lanes (turns, off-ramps, speeders)
  • Avoid driving near trucks, RVs and cars towing trailers

Whether you are commuting to work or taking a leisure trip, stay focused and avoid distractions. That is the best way to stay safe as the summer travel season ramps up.

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