US Roads are Deadlier than the Rest of Developed World

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Around 1.35 million individuals are dying each year due to vehicular accidents, according to the World Health Organization. A considerable proportion of them are vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle users. Road traffic crashes are also the leading killers of children and young adults.

Motor vehicle crash deaths on US roads reached an estimated 36,560 in 2018. The country’s traffic fatality rates are three to four times higher than those in peer countries, which include the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

In Utah, one of the states with relatively lower road fatalities, there were 260 people killed in crashes in 2018. With vehicular accidents still happening, seeking legal advice and representation of a car accident attorney here in Salt Lake City is essential.

Lenient drunk driving laws

Many studies have shown that alcohol impairs thinking and muscle coordination. Almost 30 people in the US die in drunk driving crashes every day, which is equivalent to one road user every 50 minutes. In many parts of the country, it is illegal to drive with Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

But in Utah, people who have BAC of .05 are considered legally drunk, in line with the WHO recommendation. Drunk driving measures in the country are lenient compared with neighboring Canada.

The latter imposes mandatory treatment program and medical evaluation to offenders and asks them to pay for license reinstatement fees.

Need to buckle up

buckling up

The risk of death among drivers and front-seat passengers is reduced by 45% to 50% if they wear seatbelts. Buckling up also decreases the risk of serious injuries and death among rear seat occupants by 25%.

The number of Americans who understand the lifesaving value of seatbelts has been increasing steadily since the 1980s. Laws in the country, however, do not require back seat passengers to use a seatbelt.

Bad motorcycle helmet laws

14% of the motor vehicle crash deaths in 2018 involved motorcycle riders. In Utah, motorcyclist deaths accounted for nearly a fourth of road crash fatalities in the state. Proper helmet use reduces the risk of fatal injuries for two- and three-wheeled motor vehicle riders by 42% and the risk of head injuries by 69%.

The country’s motorcycle laws are worse than China and India. Utah state law, for example, requires helmets for motorcyclists below 18 years old. But lawmakers have consistently opposed proposed measures seeking to need them for adult riders.

Aggressive driving

Speeding has been contributing to approximately one-third of all vehicle fatalities in the US for more than two decades. In 2018, aggressive driving killed 9,378 people. The National Transportation Safety Board says speeding is a massive blind spot in the federal government’s road safety efforts.

The safety watchdog also says federal and state officials are not doing enough to address this deadly problem.

The WHO says urban street limits should be lower than 50 kilometers per hour. Local governments should also have the legislative power to adjust their speed limits, but localities need state-level permission to set their speed limits.

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