In this morning's Star Tribune was a short article discussing the annual report on car crashes in Minnesota from 2013. Apparently some department at the state keeps track of this sort of thing and releases this report once a year. The statistics of interest are:
1. 387 traffic fatalities in 2013, which was a slight drop from the 395 fatalities in 2012.
2. Drunken-driving (95 deaths) and not wearing a seatbelt (94 deaths) were the two leading causes of fatalities.
3. Speeding accounted for 76 deaths.
4. Distracted driving led to 68 fatalities. In other words, texting while driving and doing other things other than paying attention to the road cost 68 Minnesotans their lives last year alone. Seriously, whatever it is, it can wait until you aren't driving.
5. All told there were 77,707 reported crashes during the year. That's about 212 crashes every single day.
6. More than 30,000 people were reported injured. This figure probably under estimates the total by a significant number. Many people state that they are not injured at the crash scene only to begin developing serious and sometimes disabling symptoms hours or days later.
There is hope for the future. Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai, for example, now sell cars that come equipped with a crash avoidance system that detects when the car is approaching another object and then automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn't. Once that system becomes standard equipment across the board, I would predict that traffic accidents will decrease by 50% or more.