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Background: The Burden of Risky Driving
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HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE

PUBLIC HEALTH APPROACH

BACKGROUND

KEY DEFINITIONS

SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL MODEL FOR DRIVER SAFETY

SHARED RISK FACTORS

SHARED PROTECTIVE FACTORS

BEHAVIOR CHANGE STRATEGIES

RECOMMENDATIONS


APPENDIX A: PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION GUIDE

 

APPENDIX B: EXPLORING KEY FACTORS FOR RISKY DRIVING


COMPLETE RESOURCE DOCUMENT




 

 

Unintentional injury is one of the top leading causes of death across the lifespan of an individual. Motor vehicle crashes currently rank as the primary leading cause of injury among individuals 24 years of age or younger and the second leading cause of injury among adults 25 years of age and older. Reversing a nearly decade-long trend, fatalities from motor vehicle crashes rose in 2015 and 2016, an increase of 14.4 percent over 2014. Traffic fatalities in 2018 remained high, with 36,750 deaths occurring on the nation’s roads. The profile of motor vehicle-related fatalities in 2017 reveals risky driver behaviors as influential factors, including:

 

  • Nearly half (47 percent) of all passenger vehicle fatalities involved people that were unrestrained
  • Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased by 1.1 percent from the previous year, accounting for 29 percent of 2017 overall fatalities;
  • The number of fatalities in distraction-related crashes was 8.5 percent of total fatalities in 2017;
  • Speeding-related fatalities decreased by 5.6 percent; and
  • The number of fatalities involving a drowsy driver was 2.1 percent of total fatalities in 2017.

Driver behaviors are directly implicated in the profile of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. 

  • For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2017, speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all fatal crashes. Of the fatal crashes that were attributed to speeding, half of those drivers were also unrestrained by a seat belt.
  • Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes—that's one person every 48 minutes. Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities have fallen by one third in the last three decades; however, crashes due to alcohol impairment claim more than 10,000 lives per year.
  • In 2017, distracted driving was reported in crashes that claimed 3,166 lives – although many instances may go unreported. Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
  • The 2013-2014 Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found an increase in the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana and other drugs that can impair driving skills compared to the 2007 survey findings. In the 2013-2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could potentially affect safe driving skills. Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and illegal drugs may cause impairment alone or in combination with each other and/or with alcohol. Whether by drugs — legal or illegal — alcohol, or a combination of both alcohol and other drugs, impaired driving puts the driver, their passengers, and other road users at risk.
  • Fatigued and drowsy driving claimed 795 lives in 2017, but drowsy driving continues to be underreported. Fatigued driving can lead to a variety of negative outcomes such as impaired cognition and performance, motor vehicle crashes, work-related injuries, and health consequences. Effectively dealing with the drowsy driving problem requires changes to societal norms and attitudes about drowsy driving.
  • One of the safest choice’s drivers can make is to use a seat belt. Many Americans understand the lifesaving value of the seat belt – the national daytime use rate in 2017 was 89.7 percent and 89.6 percent in 2018– but nearly 27.5 million people rode unbuckled. In 2016, seat belt use in vehicles saved an estimated 14,668 lives. 

In addition to traditional traffic safety efforts, public health injury prevention programs have long been invested in reducing the burden of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. In fact, motor vehicle safety has been named one of the top ten public health achievements in the 21st century. While both professional communities engage in this important work, there is a need for enhanced collaboration across the two sectors.

 

 

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