Distracted driving blamed for historic drop in life expectancy

Life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped for the first time since 1993 and distracted driving may be to blame.

For the first time in decades, the life expectancy of American men and women has declined, and distracted driving may be partially to blame, according to the MIT Technology Review. Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics show that the average life span in the U.S. dropped in 2015, the first time it had done so in more than two decades. While disease, particularly heart disease and dementia, is likely a major reason for the drop, analysts say that motor vehicle accidents, especially those caused by distracted driving, are also contributing to the problem.

Life expectancies drop

The data shows that in 2015 the average life expectancy of American men dropped to 76.3 years from 76.5 years in 2014. For women, life expectancy dropped from 81.3 years in 2014 to 81.2 years in 2015. The last time life expectancy fell was in 1993.

Heart disease, which rose by 0.9 percent, and Alzheimer's, which surged by 15.7 percent, are being singled out as the main drivers of the fall in life expectancy. Additionally, opioid abuse may also be contributing to the problem. Accidental poisoning deaths, which include drug overdoses, rose by 13 percent in 2015.

Distracted driving a contributing factor

Motor vehicle accidents, however, are also playing a crucial role in the fall in life expectancy, especially those caused by distracted driving. While overall accidents increased by six percent nationwide last year, fatal accidents caused by distracted driving rose by 8.8 percent. Overall, traffic accidents killed more than 35,000 people in the U.S. in 2015. By way of comparison, in 2014 there were 28,000 deaths caused by opioid overdoses.

Massachusetts is certainly not immune to the problem of distracted driving. As the Boston Globe reports, citations for distracted driving have risen sharply since texting and driving laws were passed six years ago. In 2011, for example, 1,153 tickets were issued for distracted driving, while in 2015 there were 6,131 tickets issued. An analysis of tickets issued showed that men and drivers under 40 were the likeliest to be cited for distracted driving. Between 2010 and 2013, according to state officials, there were 183 distracted driving deaths in the state, although because distracted driving can be difficult to track, the true number is likely much higher.

Personal injury law

Distracted driving presents one of the most pressing dangers on Massachusetts' roads and highways. For anybody who has been hurt in a traffic accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver, it is important to reach out for help right away. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims in a number of ways, including by helping them understand what their legal rights are and assisting them in pursuing any financial compensation they may be entitled to.