Last week, we presented data from the National Safety Council (NSC) that suggested 2015 was the deadliest driving year since 2008, with fatalities on the road topping out at 38,000 people. There were numerous hypotheses presented as to why 2015 was such a dangerous year behind the wheel, but data just released today may paint a clearer picture.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has finally compiled its data on the previous year, and concluded that 2015 was a record-breaking year in vehicle miles traveled.
Last year saw U.S. commuters and drivers traveling 3.148 trillion miles, absolutely crushing the previous record of 3.003 trillion miles set in 2007. According to the FHWA, for perspective, that’s comparable to 337 round trips from Earth to Pluto.
If those numbers weren’t enough to make your jaw drop, December’s data is equally unbelievable: 264.2 billion miles were driven in that month alone, no doubt due to the holiday season. When adjusted for variations in seasonal and holiday situations, that number actually jumps to 268.5 billion miles – a new all-time monthly record.
Putting It All Together
So what does all of this data mean? For one, it means that a whole lot more people are driving – perhaps due to the improvements in economy, employment rate, and decrease in gas prices.
Additionally, this may shine some light on why 2015 was reported to have a record-breaking number of traffic fatalities and serious injury collisions. With more people on the road, it naturally makes sense that there’s a greater chance of collisions and potential for conflict on the road. However, it still remains a mystery as to how those collisions escalate into catastrophic, life-taking incidents.
What Can You Do as a Driver?
Despite this eye-opening data, don’t be discouraged by the thoughts that you (and other drivers) will soon be crammed tight into highway like a can of sardines. Ultimately, the volume of cars on the road will definitely affect your driving, but there are still a few simple ways you can instantly improve your abilities to be safe, aware, and responsible behind the wheel:
- Wear your seat belt, no matter how short the trip may be.
- Don’t drive if you’ve had a couple. No exceptions.
- Stash your phone away when you’re behind the wheel. No exceptions.
This might seem like common sense (and also probably the millionth time you’ve heard it from us), but these are incredibly simple things to do that could potentially save your life. Why not take a few seconds to do something that might be marginally uncomfortable, if it means you end up at your destination safe and sound?
If you’re truly not confident in your abilities on the road, take a defensive driving course. It’s a great refresher that not only gives you the knowledge to be a good driver, but also empowers you with the ability to be safe, confident, and responsible on the road.