Rise in the Car Crash Deaths in the Last Decade: Are Stunt Driving Commercials to Blame?
Since 2012, there has been a steep rise in the number of car crash deaths in a year. In 2021, there were 43,000 car crash deaths, which is 27% higher than in 2012. This increase concerns the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is taking several steps to understand the reasons behind the bleak statistics.
One of the first steps they took was to bring the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) on board to find out if there is any link between commercials that showcase unsafe driving and accidents/deaths in the real world.
According to the NTSB Chair, Jennifer Homendy, “Nearly one-third of our roadway deaths are speeding-related, and this sort of advertising is dangerous and contributes to a culture of speeding that costs lives.” However, she also added in the interview with NBC News that “Everyone – including vehicle manufacturers – shares in the responsibility for safety on our roads.”
On the other hand, the Chief Research Officer at IIHS, David Zuby, believes that if there is any link between the two, it would be difficult to prove. He and his team will be formulating different ways to examine the existence of such a link. Irrespective of this, he does mention that showcasing standard/regular cars being driven rashly in unsafe ways and unprotected environments does create a bad impression on viewers.
The car crash research focuses not merely on commercials but also several factors. Homendy and the NTSB are looking at different factors that could influence such incidents. According to Col. Matt Langer from the Minnesota State Patrol, drivers began taking more risks during the pandemic when lesser traffic was on the roads, and they were relatively empty. Although normalcy has been restored, the drivers haven’t toned down their risky driving behavior, which could be another reason for car crash deaths.
Langer said, “The roads today are more dangerous than they were five years ago, and some of the progress that we’d made in the U.S. related to traffic safety have been erased.” He further highlighted that people not following elemental traffic rules, such as wearing seat belts and abiding by the signs, is also an issue. One another factor that Zuby has emphasized is the evolution of car designs.
According to Zuby, “The horsepower of all vehicles has gone up dramatically over the last 20, 30 years.” He has been working on highway safety since 1986 and believes that the competition between automobile companies has become fiercer in recent years. They are trying to one-up each other in terms of their offering, and cars such as Dodge Chargers also come with 1000 horsepower variations. Zuby believes, “What’s the point of selling a 1,000-horsepower car to people who are going to drive it on the road?” More pedestrians are also being killed due to car crashes, which requires drastic measures. IIHS specializes in crash tests and validating claims made by automobile manufacturers. Although the institute has never un-recommended vehicles, with such deaths on the rise, Zuby believes the IIHS will have to resort to such measures.
Another interesting insight Zuby spoke about is how the increased sales of large cars such as SUVs have pushed more people to bike or walk during their daily routine. This has increased pedestrian traffic, which could be directly related to more deaths.
In an NTSB report on the Las Vegas car crash that killed 9, the organization recommended several steps besides investigating the link between commercial ads and the accidents. These include looking at car designs and having intelligent systems that can automatically curb speeds on roads. Another step was to improve the road designs to ensure there is less room to overspeed.
If you do get into a car crash accident in Kansas City, contact a Kansas City car accident attorney, who could take you through the steps and guide you toward the best possible solution. To ensure you’re not in such a predicament, follow the traffic rules judiciously and take all possible safety precautions while driving on the road.