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More Americans killed in car crashes since 2000 than in both world wars

The number of Americans killed in car crashes is greater than the number of Americans who died...
The number of Americans killed in car crashes is greater than the number of Americans who died in both world wars. | Credit: WHSV(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 25, 2019 at 6:50 PM EDT
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Since 2000, more than 686,000 people have died in car crashes in the United States. That figure adds up to be more than the number of Americans killed during both World War I and World War II.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 522,000 Americans died in the two world wars.

The traffic death data is compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Between 2000 and 2017, the last year data is available, almost 687,000 people died in crashes.

When you take a look at the data, the number of Americans dying in car crashes was on the decline before rising slightly in recent years.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2008. In 2017, almost 2,000 people died in speed-related crashes.

Sgt. Sean Simmons, a Virginia State Police trooper, said speed is one of the factors they see in fatal crashes in the county, but it's one of several.

"Speed, definitely a factor," Simmons said. "You have seat belts, not wearing their seat belts. DUIs, DUIs maybe cut back a little bit. Between DUIs and distracted driving, both of them are very dangerous, both of them contribute to fatal crashes."

Drivers going through the area had a few ideas about what might be behind fatal crashes.

"To me, it's always the people trying to go too fast, thinking they need to get somewhere way too fast," Cindy Stanley said. "That's what I see."

Kim Conrad, another driver, suggested the deaths are a result of cell phones and maybe drunk driving.

"It's preventable," Robert Budnick, another driver, said. "A lot of it is failure to respect the task, and it's a big task."

Data and research from IIHS showed distracted driving plays a role in the number of fatal crashes. Over the last several years, anywhere from eight to 10 percent of deaths happened because of distracted driving, but they said a true estimate can be difficult to get.