Current statistics by the NHTSA indicate that the number of traffic accidents per year over the last 20 years has not changed significantly, but what has changed over the last 7 years is that the number of fatal accidents for drivers has dropped from roughly 38,000 per year to 30,000. This transition in terms of the number of traffic fatalities per year began in 2009 and could be linked to safety measures within the manufacturing practices of auto manufacturers. Clearly drivers did not suddenly become more careful in 2009 or we would have seen a corresponding drop in the number of accident.
Similarly, while the number of fatalities for those within the car has dropped to a new average in 2009, the number of pedestrian fatalities and bicycle fatalities per year has remained steady. Between 4500 and 5000 pedestrians and 700 to 800 bicyclists die per year over the last twenty years.
What these statistics prove is that we’ve done nothing as a society in the last 20 years to reduce the number of accidents involving cars, pedestrians and bicyclists. If the problem can’t be reduced in any significant way than states should at least force drivers to purchase increased minimum limits for bodily injury coverage on their auto insurance policies.
Only three states require bodily injury limits of $50,000 – Arkansas, Maine and Wisconsin. This is a problem on so many levels. First and foremost, $50,000 is woefully inadequate to compensate anyone that sustains an injury in an accident that requires hospitalization for more than one night or needs extended medical treatment, especially if surgery is involved. For those who have seen a medical bill for a hospital stay lasting more than one night know that a bill under $50,000 these days is a rarity. If that bill alone exceeds the minimum insurance coverage limits in every state in the U.S. than how can we expect to be fairly compensated for our injuries?
The only answer or solution to this problem is to spend additional money to have higher insurance coverage limits that protect you in the event the party that hit you has a low limit policy. For roughly $60 per month you can have One Million Dollars in excess umbrella coverage on your two family cars. One car for the family and we’ve cut that number in half.
Think about that for a second and then think about the amount of money you spend on sneakers or clothes or dinners. For just an extra $60 a month you never again have to worry about not having adequate coverage in the event you are involved in a car accident through no fault of your own and sustain an injury. Most people focus solely on whether they have enough coverage to protect themselves from personal financial exposure and yes this is a critical factor in the decision making process, BUT the factor that should be most central to your decision is whether me or a family member will be fairly compensated for an injury in the event the at fault party doesn’t have auto insurance OR if they’ve done what most do and purchased the absolute minimum coverage necessary.
Think hard about how you spend your money and whether you’ve taken the right steps to protect your family.