The panacea for reducing the road toll, advanced technology, appears not to be working, at least in the U.S.
In that country, the road toll has spiked 5.6% last year (2016) to a horrific 37,461 people.
This is despite more new cars hitting the road with crash avoidance systems and other driver assist technology designed to either avoid a collision or mitigate the effects of one.
The road toll figures were issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and translate into 102 people killed every day on US roads.
The latest bad news comes after an even worse spike in road deaths in 2015 when the US toll rose by 8.4%.
“This is really a call to action that every driver needs to heed, because we’ve reached a point that if we don’t do something, we’re really going to be in trouble,” said Maureen Vogel, spokeswoman for the National Safety Council.
Ironically, the National Safety Council is an organisation that, among other things, educates drivers about new technology available in their cars.
“You can’t lose almost 40,000 on the roads and continue to be complacent, ” she said.
Smartphones may be responsible for some of the increase but the NHTSA statistics show a 2.2% drop in fatalities attributed to distracted driving in 2016.
The statistics found the grim increase was more the result of familiar causes:
- Alcohol-related deaths rose 1.7% year over year
- Speeding-related deaths increased 4.0%
- Unbelted deaths increased by 4.6%
Officials cite additional miles travelled as a reason fior the spike linked to the ebb and flow of the US economy. When times are good, people travel more miles in their car.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, features such as automated emergency braking are helping to reduce crashes but those systems are often optional features.
A voluntary agreement among car manufacturers to make AEB standard doesn’t take effect until 2022.