Recently, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that traffic fatalities were up by nine percent. This number has consistently been declining every year since the 1970s by at least two percent. The last increase was blamed on a computer problem due to the implementation of a new crash reporting system.
The blame this time was not placed on drunk driving or texting. The age of the drivers did not indicate the baby boomers were the cause. The weather was also the mildest in decades. Also, miles driven rose only one percent during the same time.
Nine percent is a huge jump. My theory is that the rise in fatalities is the apathy of American motorist towards maintenance and proper repair of their vehicles. I would not say the spike was due to the economy or fuel prices.
On the internet, it is possible to look at hundreds of local newspapers documenting car crashes in their respective communities. Over the past 12 months, I have seen the rise of crashes where the mechanical condition of the vehicle played a part in a crash.
In one report, a driver with bad brakes was killed and injured three members of his family. But, he is praised for taking the brunt of the impact on the driver’s side to “save his family.” In another report, a driver ran over two pedestrians (they were jay walking at night) and the police discovered the front brakes were not working (he received only five days in jail). I could go on and on.
In all the cases, the drivers ignored their vehicle’s condition to the point where it put everyone’s safety at risk. It was not that the drivers’ intent to injure or kill, it was ignorance and optimism that made them get behind the wheel.
There are very small penalties for some drivers and their transgressions because ignorance does not mean intent to law enforcement and the courts. A driver could injure or kill an entire family, but if it was a mechanical problem that contributed to the crash, there are no criminal charges.
It has gotten so bad that some people cry “brake failure” rather than admitting they knew their vehicle was unsafe or they were distracted. One driver tried to use the excuse his brakes failed after killing two construction workers in Colorado. The police found that his 2007 Subaru had nothing wrong with the brakes.
Bitter Sweet Irony
The irony is that shops get punished for using legitimate fear as a sales technique. If a service advisor behind the counter at a shop tries to inform a person on how their neglect could cause a crash, they are accused of fraud. Something is not right about this.
What some people call an accident, I call negligence. It is a negligence that can be avoided with proper vehicle inspection and repair. There is just something not right about people dying and the ones that can save them have their hands tied.