Are you the type of person who eats well to live healthy? You read the nutrition information on the sides of food packages. You exercise. You see the doctor for your annual checkup. If so, you recognize that the choices you make can affect your health, longevity and the quality of your life.

Still, you likely take great risks on a regular basis. Most people do. Every time you get in your car or SUV. Despite all the safety advances manufacturers have made through the years, driving continues to be one of the nation’s deadliest activities.

What do the statistics tell us?

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die from auto accidents. More are injured. Drivers in Michigan are as vulnerable as drivers anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you’re helpless. The more you know, the better you can anticipate and respond to the dangers around you.

So, here are seven noteworthy facts and statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Michigan State Police crash statistics for 2018, the most recent year for which data is available:

  • 974 people died in auto accidents, and roughly 76,000 suffered some form of injury
  • Nearly half (47%) of all fatal accidents involved only one vehicle
  • People who didn’t wear their seatbelts were between 4 and 6 times more likely to die in auto accidents
  • People between the ages of 25 and 34 were most likely to get into accidents, die and suffer injuries
  • The most common “hazardous action” leading to an accident was “none,” meaning that most people who died in auto accidents or suffered injuries were the victims of other people’s actions
  • The other leading hazardous actions were the failure to brake, the failure to yield and speeding, in that order
  • Alcohol played a role in 315 of the state’s 974 auto deaths, or nearly one-third of all auto fatalities

What do these facts and statistics tell us? None of them are terribly surprising, but they remind us auto accidents and auto deaths are largely preventable. They don’t just happen. They’re caused. They’re more likely to result from speeding, tailgating and drinking than from freak events. Weather may play a role, but you can see the imprint of people’s decisions all over these figures.

Hold bad drivers accountable

Even while the statistics remind us that most accidents involve bad drivers, they also remind us the bad drivers aren’t the only ones who suffer.

More than half of those who die or get hurt on Michigan’s roads took no “hazardous action” immediately beforehand. If you or your loved one suffer because of a bad driver, you deserve to hold that driver accountable.