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In the decades that followed the invention of the automobile, bad car accidents increasingly became a hazard in the United States, with deaths per capita rising steadily before reaching a plateau in the 1970s. By the early ‘90s, motor vehicle fatalities had declined significantly (largely due to safety improvements such as airbags, which have been reported to reduce driver deaths by roughly 11%).
Despite this, the U.S. has experienced a renewed spike in serious car accident injuries and deaths within the past five years, attributed to a range of factors including outdated or otherwise dangerous roads – a point of focus in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.
A Closer Examination of Recent U.S. and California Car Accident Statistics
Preliminary data from 2020 shows an alarming trend in bad car accidents in the United States, with the National Safety Council (NSC) estimating a total of 42,060 motor vehicle deaths, an increase of 8% from 39,107 in 2019. Serious car accident injuries spiked across the country as well, rising to approximately 4,795,000 cases. In total, the estimated cost of injuries, property damage, and motor vehicle deaths amounted to $474.4 billion in 2020.
In California, traffic deaths rose to 3,723, up 5% from 2019. Pedestrian deaths in the state also increased according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), rising to 485 in the first half of 2020 alone. Early data for 2021 continues to paint a grim picture, with motor vehicle fatalities in California during March rising 36.2% year-over-year from 2019 to 320 deaths.
During the second quarter of 2020, the number of fatalities for every 100 million miles driven (known as the traffic fatality rate) rose to 1.42 – the highest in over a decade. Though difficult to understand initially (given the reduced flow of traffic on the roads at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report identifying the COVID driving environment as one of the leading causes of accidents during that period; drivers were engaging in riskier driving behavior, at faster speeds, as a result of less crowded roads. An increase in cases of driving under the influence was identified as well.
The Vision Zero Road Safety Plan: An Initiative to Stem the Rising Car Accident Rate at a Local Level
Although bad car accidents resulting in motor vehicle fatalities have broadly declined in the United States since the 1970s, the car accident rate in major metro areas such as Los Angeles has increased sharply in recent years, prompting city officials to take action at a local level.
Adopting a Vision Zero plan is one initiative that has seen growing popularity in different cities throughout the United States. Although the implementation varies, the concept of Vision Zero is unified by the goal of eliminating all traffic-related deaths in a city, typically within a period of ten years.
How the Proposed Biden Infrastructure Plan Details Could Help Reduce Serious Traffic Collisions
Unfortunately, few Vision Zero cities have seen concrete progress toward the end-goal of the initiative. In the fall of 2020, the City of San Francisco reported that it was not on track to meet its Vision Zero goals by 2024, citing a lack of funding as one of the reasons.
This is one of the key areas where Biden’s Infrastructure Plan (also known as the American Jobs Plan) has the potential to reduce the rate of bad car accidents. According to the official fact sheet for the American Jobs Plan released by the White House, $20 billion in funds would be allocated to, “improve road safety for all users, including increases to existing safety programs […] and local ‘Vision Zero’ plans.”
In addition to the funding for programs like Vision Zero, Biden’s American Jobs Plan seeks a comprehensive overhaul of infrastructure in the United States, with $115 billion of the proposed total allocated for the repair and modernization of bridges, streets, roads, and highways. By funding the repair and renewal of the most dangerous roads in California and other states, Biden’s Infrastructure Plan has the potential to increase the safety of drivers on the road.
Much remains unknown about the fate of the bill, however, as the final numbers and details on funding are yet to be agreed upon by members of congress. Even then, with the successful passage of the infrastructure portion of the bill, it will take time for new road safety measures enabled by the American Jobs Plan to be put in place.
Contacting a Serious Car Accident Lawyer in the Aftermath of a Collision
Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of law makers, accidents along the road will inevitably happen (often at no fault of the driver’s own). If you’ve been the victim of serious car accident injuries, it’s important to speak to a skilled lawyer as soon as possible. The attorneys at Avrek Law combine more than 50 years of experience helping accident victims. With more than $1 billion recovered for clients in over 45,000 cases, Avrek Law is here to help – contact us today for a free car accident consultation!