Alabama has one of the highest crash fatality rates in the country – without context, you might think Alabama residents are inherently dangerous drivers. The truth is much more complex. While overall fatality statistics reveal the dangers of driving in Alabama, several factors speak to more than recklessness and negligence behind the wheel. We’ve compiled some of the latest data on Alabama and national car wrecks to illustrate some common trends and risk factors in accidents.
Alabama and National Car Accident Statistics
Consider some of the latest data on car wrecks in Alabama and across the United States:
- Accidents and fatalities. The estimated number of car wreck-related fatalities in 2016 was 1,058, an almost 25% increase over the previous year (University of Alabama). Total wrecks in Alabama for the same year only increased 2.1 percent. Across the nation, fatalities in 2016 rose 6% (NSC). The NSC also noted that drivers drove more miles in 2016, on average.
While state fatalities clearly outweigh the national trend, one element to consider is the geography and layout of the state’s roads. Alabama’s accident landscape is very different from many other states. One possible reason for higher fatality rates is accident location. Alabama contains numerous rural pockets. Emergency services may take 45 minutes to an hour (or longer) to reach the scene of an accident in some areas. Limited access to medical services can increase the risk of death.
Considering national data from 1975 until 2015, the overall fatality rates haves changed. In general, the number of fatal crashes and fatality/injury rates are steadily declining. While certain years represent spikes in the charts, fewer dangerous accidents happen on the roadways today (NHTSA).
- Seat belt use and accidents. In 2016, Alabama had a 92% seat belt use rate, a 1.3% decline from 2015 but 2% higher than the nationwide average (NHTSA). While overall seatbelt use is relatively high, the University of Alabama data indicated that 403 of those who died in 2016 accidents failed to use a seat belt.
- Drunk driving and accidents. The latest data on drunk driving and accidents from 2015 indicates 10,265 people died in drunk driving accidents across America that year compared to 35,092 total deaths (NHTSA). In Alabama, 247 people died compared to 849 total deaths. Individual state numbers ranged from 6 to 1,323 deaths that year.
- Distracted driving and accidents. In 2015, 3,477 people died in distracted driving accidents across the country (NHTSA). In Alabama, the total number of distracted driving crashes has risen 20% since 2014 (University of Alabama). The overall data shows an alarming trend in the number of distracted drivers getting behind the wheel.
- Speed and accidents. Data from 2015 indicates that 9,557 fatalities across the country involved speeding accidents (NHTSA). For the same year, 236 Alabama residents died in speeding accidents. Only 44 individuals in Alabama died in speeding-related crashes in 2016 according to preliminary University of Alabama data. The school’s research also successfully illustrated how every 10 mph increase in speed increases the likelihood of a fatality.
Each piece of data fits into a bigger context to show the true nature of accidents in Alabama and across the country today. Some statistics represent a fluke in the bigger picture, while others indicate alarming trends. Ultimately, drivers must use safety measures to avoid being involved in fatal accidents. What these numbers do not illustrate is the pain and agony each death causes family members, friends, and loved ones. Follow the rules of the road, avoid distractions, and drive defensively around unsafe drivers. Every day of safe driving counts. If you’ve been in an accident, trust a Birmingham wrongful death attorney to help guide you through the process.