In 2015, there were more miles driven on the roads in the United States than at any time in prior history. While the number of per capita miles has not yet beat records, the total number of miles driven has increased rapidly, according to Chicago Tribune.
Unfortunately, with the rise in the number of miles driven, there has also been a rise in the number of accidents on the road. Drivers need to be aware of added dangers of car accidents which result from more drivers and motorists need to ensure they are taking precautions to try to avoid becoming a victim.
Rising Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents Due to More Drivers on the Roads
Over the course of 2015, a total of 3.15 trillion miles were driven across America. The Federal Highway Administration calculates the total number of miles, and considers all miles driven by trucks, buses, and passenger cars. The 3.15 trillion miles which were driven in 2015 would cover enough distance to get to Pluto and back 337 times. It is also a four percent increase from year-to-year, which is the largest rise in miles driven which has occurred over a single year since the 1980s.
The rise in miles has followed a long period in which miles driven has been down from highs. When the Great Recession hit in 2007, this resulted in a massive reduction in the number of drivers which has continued until very recently. The Great Recession brought high gas prices, high unemployment rates, and stagnant wages which all resulted in Americans driving fewer miles.
Now, the total miles driven exceeds even the highs from pre-recession, but this is because there is now a larger population. The record number of miles driven per capita is still in 2004, when the average number of miles driven was 10,105 per person. In 2015, on the other hand, the average miles driven per person was 9,794.
The number of miles driven is expected to continue to rise, and could beat per capita estimates in 2016. The increase in miles driven over 2015 was attributed to low gas prices, and gas prices continue to fall. Today, in many parts of the country, it is possible to buy gas for less than $1.50 per gallon. Cheaper gas prices mean more people driving and more driving over longer distances.
Unfortunately, more people on the road has not been a good thing in terms of car accident risks. From 2014 to 2015, there was an eight percent increase in fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. This is the largest rise in the fatality rate in 50 years. Fatalities went up because more people on the roads means a greater potential for problems to occur.
Drivers need to be aware of the rise in miles driven and of the rising accident rates. Motorists should be proactive in protecting themselves. It is important to carefully observe other motorists and to drive defensively so you can reduce the chances of a collision occurring.