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U.S. performs poorly in traffic safety

A study involving 29 countries around the world did not paint a positive picture for U.S. drivers. While the large majority of countries involved in the study saw a decrease in motor vehicle deaths from 2010 to 2016, the U.S. experienced a sharp rise. Of the five countries whose death toll rose over that time, the U.S. had the largest rate increase at more than 13 percent.

The International Transport Forum research also looked at pedestrian deaths and cyclist deaths, as well as traffic fatalities. The U.S. performed poorly in each area. Pedestrian deaths rose nearly 40 percent and cyclist deaths nearly 35 percent. Taken together, the numbers show that the U.S. is falling further behind other nations when it comes to prioritizing transportation safety.

Dangerous driving behavior

While every nation must deal with drivers who are inexperienced or fail to live up to the standards of safe driving, the U.S. faces several unique challenges. For several reasons, public transportation options lag behind those in many other countries. The lack of available alternatives means that Americans are more likely to use cars to get around, even when they should not.

Drunk driving, fatigued driving and distracted driving are all problems that are easier to get around in many other countries. A night out on the town presents less of a danger if you are getting home by bus or train. Drunk driving is a substantial problem in the U.S. and accounts for more than 10,000 deaths per year, on average.

Distracted driving is another problem made worse by our nation's strong reliance on cars. Bus passengers can safely scan the Internet or send messages to make plans. Drivers on their smartphones are a danger to everyone and have contributed heavily to the rise in distracted driving deaths over recent years.

The lack of easy alternatives is no excuse for negligent driving. Drunk and distracted drivers should be held accountable for the harm they cause. Holding them accountable and discouraging these and other forms of negligent driving will go a long way to improving road safety throughout the nation.

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