The Most Dangerous Month For Drivers Has Begun | Risk Management
Now that August has arrived, warnings are being posted—the United States has entered its deadliest month for drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS information revealed that 505 fatalities have been reported on Aug. 2 every year between 2012 and 2016—the most recent studied—making it the most fatal day for drivers in that time frame. During the same five-year span, July 4 had the second-highest number of traffic fatalities with 495.
IIHS Senior Vice President for Communications Russ Rader attributed the statistic to the fact that there are more vehicles and road trips in unfamiliar territory, creating higher crash risks, on Aug. 2 and during the summer in general.
“Traffic deaths are not inevitable. If everyone buckled up and every driver obeyed the laws against speeding and alcohol-impaired driving, the summer death toll would be much lower,” Rader said. “Even though Aug. 2 is a bad day, it’s staggering to recognize that, on average, about 100 people lose their lives on U.S. roads every single day of the year.”
A total of 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent estimate of the annual economic cost of crashes is $242 billion. Contributing to the death toll are alcohol, speeding, lack of safety belt use and other problematic driver behaviors.
“Each of those deaths could have been prevented,” Rader said. “We could make a lot more progress in reducing crashes and the deaths and injuries that result if we doubled down on the countermeasures that we know work.”
The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that of all the work-related deaths in 2016, nearly 1,600 took place on roadways and about 20% of those involved pedestrian automobiles.
Organizations with fleets should take note, as motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of work-related deaths, accounting for 24% of all fatal occupational injuries, according to the NSC. On-the-job crashes cause employers to sustain costs of more than $24,500 per property damage crash and $150,000 per injury crash.
Nationwide’s SmartRide program identified hard braking, fast acceleration and idling in traffic as the top causes of auto accidents. Those incidents, coupled with the fact that August marks the midpoint of summer in America, make this such a dangerous time to be on the road.
Nationwide’s data identifies Fridays in general, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., as the most aggressive time of the week for drivers. During this timeframe, drivers’ habits behind the wheel show more instances of hard braking and faster accelerations than any other time of the week. Additionally, Nationwide members reported more accidents in August 2016 (60,976) than any other month over the past four years.
“These critical pieces of data about driving habits have been identified as some of the leading contributors to auto accidents,” said Teresa Scharn, an associate vice president at Nationwide who helped build and manage the insurer’s telematics program. “When drivers are armed with this information, they can make necessary adjustments to their driving behaviors that will help them be safer drivers.”