U.S. trails other developed nations in road safety

While traffic accident fatalities in Illinois and around the country have fallen in recent years, the United States still trails other developed nations in the area of road safety according to a report released July 13 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal agency came to this conclusion after studying accident data collected between 2000 and 2013 from the World Health Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. CDC researchers compared the U.S. fatality rates of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians with those of 19 wealthy nations including the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada.

During the period studied, road fatalities fell by 31 percent in the United States. However, the fatality rate dropped by an average of 56 percent in the 19 other countries studied. Spain led all nations by reducing accident fatalities by more than 75 percent. The CDC report added that 18,000 lives could have been saved if the U.S. had achieved the same rate of decline as the other 19 wealthy nations in the report.

CDC researchers noted that only motorists in Belgium and Austria are less likely than Americans to fasten their safety belts, and only Canadian drivers are more likely to die in a drunk driving crash. The Report concluded that American motorists could one day be as safe as their international counterparts if drunk driving and speeding are reduced and if seat belt use is increased.

Car accident lawsuits may also play a small role in improving road safety. Litigation initiated by personal injury attorneys seeking compensation for accident victims is often filed against insurance companies, and the fear of losing their auto coverage or paying significantly higher premiums could help convince some reckless motorists to pay more attention while behind the wheel.