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Safety advocate: DOT promotes misleading stats on serious crashes

For nearly seven years, the U.S. government has cited that 94% of serious motor vehicle crashes are due to driver error, and many people in the public seem to shrug their shoulders and accept it. However, according to the country’s top safety investigator, that number is inaccurate, misleading and distracting from focusing on the real issue: safety.

Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, recently took the U.S. and state governments to task for promoting that number and encouraged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to stop using it.

Critical reason: murky explanation

The number in question originates from a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, which declared that “critical reason” for a crash was assigned to drivers in 94% of those crashes. However, the report also noted separately that critical reason “is not intended to be interpreted as the cause of the crash nor as the assignment of the fault to the driver.”

It seems like a question of semantics. On the surface, people accept the number because the DOT continues to cite it and state transportation agencies have followed suit. A possible solution: Homendy urged the DOT to improve data collection related to why crashes occur.

Road fatalities climbing

Sadly, traffic fatalities continue their astronomical climb. Estimates for the first half of 2020 show that 20,160 people died on U.S, roads, the highest number of fatalities for the first six months of a year since 2006. The number also represented an 18.4% increase compared with the first half of 2020.

Among the factors contributing to the increased fatalities include reckless driving behavior such as speeding and driving while impaired. In addition, many people fail to wear safety belts.

The need for better-designed roads and cars

People should not accept the fact that thousands of Americans die on U.S. roads each year of the 94% number. They should be outraged and continue to call for improved safety measures such as better-designed roads and better-designed cars.