A Healthy Economy Can Cause Traffic Accident Deaths

The Detroit Free Press reported that traffic accident deaths have decreased last year after a 2-year spike in deaths. They do caution however, that it's not time for celebration just yet. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that 40,100 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2017, which is down just under 1% from the 2016 total of 40,327. The NSC also said that it’s too early to tell if the decline in traffic deaths will continue to decrease, because the previous two years saw spikes in traffic accident deaths. Between 2014 and 2015, traffic accidents increased by 7%, making it the steepest increase in fatalities in the last 50 years. Before 2016, yearly traffic deaths had not yet reached 40,000. So, why the sudden increase in traffic deaths?

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Forbes.com reported that 2009-2012 were the worst 5 years of the US economy since the Great Depression. In December of 2012, the number of people employed declined by 3 million people. That means that between those 5 years, 3 million fewer people were working and fewer people were driving on the roads to and from work. Having fewer people driving on the road caused the number of traffic deaths to decrease to the lowest deaths per year. Supporting this is NSC data which shows that the lowest traffic accident deaths per year occurred in 2011 with 32,000 deaths. 

Following 2012, the economy started to get better and more people were employed. While a rise in employment is great news for the economy and the employed individuals, more people began driving more miles, which caused the spike in traffic accident deaths. As the economy recovered people began driving more often by going out on weekends, driving down unfamiliar roads, and driving longer distances, and while driving engaged in distracted driving behaviors.

The recovering economy explains why there are more people on the roads, which also explains the increase in traffic deaths. The more people driving the more risk of car accidents. So what is the explanation for distracted driving being a factor in traffic deaths? Fortune.com called distracted driving a new “epidemic.” One cause for the distracted driving epidemic is cell phones. Fortune mentions that in a survey of 2,300 people about their driving habits, 56% of people admitted to using their cell phones while driving. They also reported that for every 11 miles driven, the average person is on their phone for 0.4 miles of the drive. It doesn’t seem like a lot of distance or that it could be very dangerous, but using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. Looking away from the road for any amount of time may lead to a distracted driving car accident. 

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Touch screens inside car interiors are also a new driving distraction. A majority of new cars come with a touch screens instead of button and knobs. While the touch screen is a technological upgrade, it also requires users to look at the screen to select options, which makes it a big distraction. Although volume knobs and scanner buttons are also encourage distracted driving among other driving problems, they are a lesser evil because many people can reach out for these button without looking away from the road. In cases of a touch screen though, it's always safer to have passengers change settings in the car or to use voice activated commands, if a newer car has them. And if a vehicle has voice commands, it likely has Bluetooth, which helps avoid having to use cell phones to text or make calls, while driving. So, there are some new car technologies can prevent drivers from getting into distracted driving car crashes. Hopefully, these advancements along with a hopefully healthy economy will allow 2018 to continue the decline in traffic deaths!


As much as everyone loves staying home and ordering everything they need on Amazon with 2 day shipping, we can't avoid driving because of the risk of getting in a car accident. Instead, we should do our best to minimize the risk of car accidents by not engaging in distracted driving behaviors like using cell phones while driving. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC to speak to an experienced car accident attorney. For a free legal consulataion, dial 844.4MI.FIRM. 

Study Shows: Teens And Parents Unaware Of Drugged Driving Dangers

Michigan Drugged Driving Lawyer

A new study published in Forbes raises concerns about how much knowledge drivers have when it comes to drugged driving. A recent study regarding teens and marijuana use found that one-third of teens think it’s legal to drive while under the influence of marijuana in states where marijuana is legalized. While this could be written off as teenage ignorance, 27% of parents surveyed thought the same thing. To be clear, it is absolutely not legal to drive after consuming marijuana.

2,800 teenagers and 1,000 parents were surveyed and the results of the study highlight a common phenomenon that can be seen across the United States - drivers are well aware of the dangers that come with drunk driving, but the consequences of drugged driving are much less clear. Driving after consuming drugs just isn’t seen as being as dangerous as drunk driving! 88% of teens said driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, but only 63% said the same of marijuana. The surveyed parents rendered similar results, with 93% recognizing the dangers of alcohol, but only 76% recognized the dangers of marijuana.

While drivers may not be as informed about the dangers of drugged driving, they are still very real. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 43% of fatally injured drivers in 2015 tested positive for drugs. This is higher than the 37% of fatally injured drivers found to have alcohol in their system. Of those drugged drivers, 35.6% tested positive for marijuana. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016, 11.8 million people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of illicit drugs. Men were found more likely to drive under the influence of drugs than women, and drivers ages 18-25 were more likely to drive drugged than drivers 26 and older.

Marijuana, in particular, can slow reaction time, impair judgement of time and distance, and decrease coordination, which is why driving under the influence or marijuana risks car accidents. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, driving under the influence of marijuana can also lead to lane weaving and altered attention to the road. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) shows that 2015 saw a 47% rise in the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana. Driving while under the influence of marijuana increases the driver’s chances of being involved in a car accident by 25%.

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While it is clear that drugged driving is an issue, it is also clear that much more research is still needed. The NHTSA admits that they, “still have much to learn about how illegal drugs and prescription medicines affect highway safety.” This is likely because of how difficult it is to gather data on drugged driving accidents. Currently, there is no good road side test (such as a breathalyzer) for drug use. (Michigan even tried to implement a roadside drug testing pilot last year, but progress has been delayed.) On top of that, there are hundreds of drugs that drivers could be using, and they all vary in how much they impair the driver and how likely they are to cause a car crash. It is also common to find that drivers have consumed a combination of different drugs and alcohol, making testing difficult. Often, police won’t even test for drugs if the driver’s BAC has already been found to be over the legal limit. All of this means that further research and protocols are needed when it comes to collecting data on drugged driving.

Better collection methods and more data are clearly needed in order to fully understand the dangers of drugged driving, but there is more than enough data to know that drugged driving is dangerous. As more states move to legalize marijuana, there could be confusion on this issue when there really shouldn’t be. While using the drug may be legal, driving after using it is not. Like alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, impair the driver, not only putting the driver at risk of a car accident, but also the lives of other people in the car, other people on the road, and innocent bystanders.


Drugged driving is illegal and very dangerous. Driving under the influence puts the driver and others on the road, at risk of being involved in a car crash. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident due to a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free legal consultation.