Driving Risks By the Numbers

Driving Risks By the Numbers

The government goes over automobile accident statistics with a fine-toothed comb, as does the medical profession, teachers, auto companies, parents, and law enforcement. How can accidents be reduced? How can the number of fatalities be improved?


All the math still adds up to two certainties. Automobiles remain dangerous, in spite of significant gains in auto safety over the years. And fate, it must be said, plays a cruel hand in automobile safety. The statistics vary state to state, but every winter provides an opportunity for relatively safe roads to become relatively dangerous. One or two fateful accidents can change a state’s safety profile dramatically.


In terms of numbers, Colorado’s roads are far from the safest in the nation, as of 2017. That year, there were 34,247 fatalities on the nation’s roads, and 648 of those occurred in Colorado. While that is less than the national average (648 times 50 is 32,400), the numbers are equalized – apples to apples – by the number of fatalities per 100 million miles driven. In Colorado, for 2017, there were 1.21 fatalities for every 100 million miles driven in the state. The nation’s highest fatality rates were in South Carolina (1.8 fatalities per 100 million), Mississippi (1.67), Louisiana (1.58), Alaska (1.57), and Kentucky (1.56).


However, some of the lowest rates in the nation were half that of Colorado. In Massachusetts, there were 0.58 fatalities recorded per 100 million miles driven. Minnesota (0.62), New Hampshire (0.76), New York (0.77), and Connecticut (0.87) posted the best rates. In 134 different states, including Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Iowa and Utah, fatalities came to less than 1 per 100 million miles driven.


Risks remain age-related and auto-brand related. Across the country, the fatality rate among 16-17-year-old drivers was 3.75 per 100 million miles driven. That drops steadily, falling to 1.12 for drivers in their forties, climbing to 1.25 for drivers in their fifties, dropping for drivers in their sixties, then rising again. The highest rate involves drivers over 80. Their rate is 3.85 per 100 million miles driven.


Fatalities are, of course, a reflection of the big picture. More fatalities also imply more accidents with minor to serious injuries. If you are involved in an automobile accident, seek medical help even if you believe you have come through the accident unscathed.


Accidents jolt the body violently, but the body can be sneaky. It does not always react right away. Muscle pain and skeletal misalignments may not show up for a day or two. Brain trauma, such as a concussion, may have unusual or confusing symptoms, including dizziness and memory loss. Most concussions do not involve someone being knocked unconscious – an expectation highly misrepresented by the motion picture industry where one punch consistently puts a villain to sleep only to shake it off and stumble away an hour later. In the real world, a concussion is a bruised brain – your neurological control center. Take all brain injuries seriously. See a doctor right away.


The brand of the car also matters, but the age of the vehicle is critical, as well. Unfortunately, many young drivers cannot afford newer, safer models, so just when their driving is erratic at times, they are frequently driving cars without modern safety features.


Newer cars are equipped with airbags, stability control, backup cameras, computers that warn drivers of low air pressure in tires, anti-lock brakes, and better engineering. If you must buy an older model to fit your budget, search online for older automobiles with high safety ratings: Google “safest used cars” or a similar phrase. You’ll find credible lists of safer cars.


If you have been injured in a car accident, we can help. Call (719) 917-1000. No referral necessary.

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