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Driving safely should be our No. 1 focus

As a nation, we spend a lot of time thinking about various ways to stay safe. Every time you hear about a product recall or a food recall, it's to protect the consumer. Every year, when they tell you to get a flu shot, it's to keep you out of the hospital. Every product you buy has a warning label on it, telling you how to use it safely and what not to do.

These are not bad things. We should stay conscious of safety in all possible ways. But one thing it seems people often overlook is driving safely. You can make the argument that it should be the No. 1 focus, but people usually don't think about it much during that morning commute.

40,000

For the past three years with available statistics -- 2016, 2017 and 2018 -- more than 40,000 Americans have died in car accidents annually. The hope is that the numbers for 2019 will come in lower when they get compiled, but even a decline could still put it around 39,000 or 38,000. There's a chance it winds up right around 40,000 again. After all, the decline from 2017 to 2018 was a mere 1%. Things are certainly not getting safer in a hurry.

To put this in perspective, think of it this way: The total enrollment at the University of Arkansas is just over 27,000. That means that more people will die on America's roads than the entire student body of the school. It's actually about 1.5 times the enrollment.

And that's just in one year. It happens every single year. The death toll, something most people do not think about until they lose a loved one, exceeds many people's expectations. They think that car accident fatalities, while they do happen, remain rare. The statistics turn that around. These accidents are not rare at all. With 40,000 people dying per year, you're lucky if you haven't already lost a loved one.

The injury toll

Plus, you need to remember that it's not just fatalities that make the roads dangerous. In 2018, about 4.5 million people ended up with serious injuries in car accidents.

You may live through that crash, but what if you have a spinal cord injury, a brain injury or some other serious injury? Will it change your life forever? Will it change your career? Just because you do not fall into the 40,000 fatalities does not mean you can easily put the accident behind you.

Your legal options

Because accidents are so common and so dangerous, everyone needs to know their legal options. Make sure you know where you stand in the wake of a crash.

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