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5 reasons why auto accidents are on the rise

Property Casualty 360.com MAR 02, 2017 | BY DENNY JACOB

One of the questions that I get all the time is why is my insurance going up.  My car is older and I did not have any claims.  The principle of the many pay for the few is part of the reason; but, there was an excellent article in Property Casualty 360.com (an insurance industry paper) that explains why auto accident and their cost of those accidents are on the rise.  These costs are passed on to all insureds, even those with no claims…

  “The rise in car crashes have been attributed to continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy which has increased motor-vehicle mileage. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)  According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths increased 6 percent to 40,200 — the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 have died in motor vehicle crashes in a single year.  The 2016 total follows a 7 percent rise in 2015. Much of this is attributed to continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy which has increased motor-vehicle mileage. 

In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s early estimates show the motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months of 2016 increased about 8 percent as compared to the motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months of 2015. Preliminary data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first nine months of 2016 increased about 3 percent. 

All 10 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regions experienced increases during the first nine months of 2016. In particular, the South, Southeast and Northeast saw motor vehicle traffic fatalities spike between 11 and 20 percent alone.  As the economy grows and gas and diesel remain cheap, drivers can expect heavy congestion and more cars on the road. (Photo: Shutterstock)

More cars on the road and miles driven today

Cheap gas and diesel, plus a stronger economy, has caused high road density with more cars on the roadThe Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration shows that driving jumped 3.5 percent over 2015, the largest uptick in more than a decade. Americans drove more than 3.15 trillion miles, equivalent to around 337 round trips from Earth to Pluto. The previous record, around 3 trillion miles, was set in 2007.

More distractions

Beyond texting and driving, from Bluetooth to Snapchat, approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile. On top of that, we now have sensors and technologies that respond to our every move in vehicles. We have apps that connect to center consoles and more touch-screen technology in vehicles than ever before.

Younger, more inexperienced drivers

A new study from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show that millennial drivers (more 19- to 39-year-old drivers) are texting, speeding and running red lights. They also think it's OK to speed in school zones. While the statistics improve for older drivers, it’s not by much. From a commercial driver standpoint, the experience (or inexperience) of drivers can lead to more auto accidents overall.

Cost of car repair more expensive

Think about your grandfather’s car. If the engine blew, you went to a mechanic who fixed the problem. Now, everything in a car is connected by a computer. If one fuse blows, it will likely have an impact on other parts of the vehicle. Yes, computers make it easier and quicker to fix, but overall costs tend to be higher, especially because cars on the road are much newer.

Ultimately, we pay for the technology (computers, advancements in bodywork, HVAC, etc.). To diagnose many computer issues and the dozens of sensors requires a scan tool that is capable of accessing the thousands of manufacturer-specific trouble codes and data streams. A good one can cost $7,000 alone.

Injury costs from accidents on the rise  

No surprise, the cost of medical care has increased, most of which are spinal and soft tissue injuries. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 35 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by vehicle accidents (truck, automobile, or motorcycle). Think about this — medical spending for spinal care per patient increased by 95 percent from $487 to $950 between 1999 to 2008, accounting for inflation. 

But think about the full picture, which compounds the issue. You get whiplash (direct medical cost), have to stay home for a few weeks (loss of income) and get physical therapy (cost of post-injury medical care — according to one estimate, about 25 percent of whiplash injury patients end up suffering chronic pain). The costs can triple from an economic and quality-of-life perspective, costing the U.S. $2.7 billion per year.”

Our Agency reviews each client’s renewal to determine if there is a better option for all our customers.  We understand that the cost of insurance may go up due to these factors; however, some carriers’ loss ratio may be better than the industry-wide results, which means better and more competitive rates for our customers.

Posted 11:56 AM  View Comments

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