What the U.S. CDC Says about Road and Highway Crash Deaths in America

In July 2016 — with a very welcome degree of frankness and honesty that I have not seen from other top-level road safety bodies in the USA — the Center for Disease Control [CDC] wrote: “…more than 32,000 people are killed and 2 million are injured each year from motor vehicle crashes. In 2013, the US crash death rate was more than twice the average of other high-income countries… Motor vehicle crash deaths in the US are still too high.  There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013…” [Source]

However, since the figure of 32,719 deaths for 2013 became known, the number of road deaths has catapulted upwards and the National Safety Council [NSC] now estimates that 40,200 people were killed on America’s roads in 2016, which will represent a frankly catastrophic, 23 percent increase in just three years.

Despite the CDC’s refreshing frankness, however, there was still one aspect of their associated document which, from any layman reader’s perspective, would appear to significantly play-down the scale of the situation, and this is implied in the graphic shown below.

It is misleading that this graphic shows the ‘per capita’ road death rates for just ten ‘high-income’ countries when in fact in 2013 the USA was in 30th position out of the 32 OECD nations that were listed in that year’s data in the 2015 IRTAD report.

To be fair, the two other illustrations on the same page did carry explanatory notes regarding the overall numbers of countries to which they referred, which is infinitely preferable.  See page 3 of the July 2016 edition of VitalSigns.

It can also be said that while the CDC statement about “the US crash death rate [being] more than twice the average of other high-income countries,” it can be argued that it is even more valid and revealing to state that the USA rate of road deaths is more than four-times worse than the per-capita rates in the leading nations, and three-times worse in the per-vehicles rate, and that if the USA made itself able to match those leading nations, between 20,000 and 25,000 American lives would be saved, each and every year.

The other topic that needs to be mentioned while we are on this subject is that while the USA is justifiably focusing on the biggest known causes of road deaths, it appears to be stunningly intransigent regarding other significant factors.  It can be argued that this is logical and that the specific things which cause most deaths — such as excessive speed, drunk driving, and failing to wear seat belts — should be the priority.  This may well be true insofar as the priority aspect, but given just how far the USA lags behind so many other countries and the fact that America’s situation is currently worsening dramatically by the year, it must now be time to widen the remit regarding which international best-practices should be emulated, over and above the five biggest killers — a currently rather narrow focus which clearly is not working anywhere near well-enough.

 

 

 

 

NTSB Safety Compass has not Published my Reply to their “Best Days of Their Lives” Blog, but it’s Important

One week ago, on July 10, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] published their periodic “Safety Compass” blog.  The post in question was called “Best Days of Their Lives” and is very good, in relation to the safety of young drivers.

Photograph of two roadside memorials, on opposite sides of a rural road, and from two separate crashes.
Not one but two memorials for young people, from two separate crashes on either side of the road at this location in Illinois. Photo: Copyright 2012.

Excerpt: “… [This is] the beginning of the ‘100 Deadliest Days’—the driving season in which crashes involving teens ages 16 to 19 years old increase significantly. Youth drivers are getting behind the wheel with cellphones in hand or drowsy from long, summer nights.

“Our Most Wanted List strives to end alcohol and other drug impairment, distraction, and fatigue‑related accidents, and calls for stronger occupant protection; during the 100 Deadliest Days, young drivers are often faced with many of the challenges included on the Most Wanted List, which makes the collaboration between the NTSB and youth‑serving organizations so vital…”

These are, of course, extremely valid and important points but given how astonishingly far the USA is behind the road safety performance of virtually every other developed nation in the world, I would respectfully suggest that even more needs to be done, so that areas where America is very clearly a long way behind international standards and best practices may be swiftly improved and so that U.S. road deaths — which are currently increasing at an unprecedented and terrible rate — may be turned around and significantly reduced.

This is my reply that, for whatever reason, did not make it through ‘moderation’ and onto the NTSB blog page:

“Very valuable, but in addition it really is high time that all state drivers manuals in the USA were brought fully up to date with global best practices so that young drivers no longer have their heads filled with archaic, inaccurate or even dangerous ‘advice’. It is now over ten years since the paper “State Drivers Manuals Can Kill Your Kids”  was published by the SAE at their 2007 World Congress, in Detroit (and won an ‘excellence’ award from audience feedback) but precious little has changed in that time.”

 

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

Comparing the Evil 9/11 Attack to U.S. Road Safety is Awful

Some people think it is wrong to make the following comparison so I will apologize now to anyone who is offended, but the ongoing situation is so pointless and so crucial to the well-being of Americans that I hope you will forgive me for doing so:

Photo of the Freedom Tower, a symbol of defiance and a great nation. (Photo by Phil Dolby / Wikicommons license)
A symbol of defiance and a great nation. (Photo by Phil Dolby / Wikicommons license)

Quote:

“September 11, 2017, will be the 16th anniversary of the evil attacks on four planes, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, but did you know that for every single person killed on that truly awful day, over 200 people have since been killed on America’s roads?  Yes, a total of almost two-thirds of a million people slaughtered in U.S. highway crashes, plus around 40 million injured, in just 16 years.  And almost all Americans, including supposedly responsible politicians, completely ignore this hideous and  unnecessary travesty because what?”  Eddie Wren, Advanced Drivers of North America, Inc. — July 13, 2017.

 

Also see: Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Capita’ Rate, 2015  (2015 being the latest figures available as at July 2017.  Figures for 2016 should become available within weeks.)