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Rise in Fatal Road Accidents Greatest in the Last 50 Years

According to recently released data, traffic fatalities rose in 2015 for the first time in several years. Overall fatalities were up 8 percent for the year.

The National Safety Council estimates that 38,300 people were killed on American roads in 2015, with nearly 4.5 million injured. These numbers are the highest since 2008, before the Great Recession.

The percentage increase is the largest year-to-year jump in a half-century.

The NSC released data on February 17, 2016. The numbers composed by the non-profit safety council, established by Congress, aligns with number provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation. Earlier this month, the NHTSA released data showing a 9 percent increase in traffic deaths for the first nine months of 2015.

What Accounts for the Increased Danger on U.S. Roads?

Many safety experts hypothesize that the rise is due to a lower unemployment rate - and subsequently more commuters. With more people on the roads, there is a greater likelihood that more people will become injured or killed. According to the DOT, American motorists drove 3.5 percent more combined miles in 2015 than in 2014. Lower gas prices may also have contributed to the extra miles driven, in turn leading to more accidents.

Even if the increased fatalities are a reflection of the number of motorists on the road, the jump is still discouraging. Safety campaigns aimed at reducing drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving may have saved lives, but those behaviors continue to plague roads. And while evolving technology may help improve safety, air bags, rear-view cameras and child safety seats do not always help when confronted with bad driving behaviors.

Human Error Remains a Large Cause of Accidents

Human error remains a leading cause of fatal accidents. No matter how safe your vehicle is, if you are struck by a drunk, reckless or negligent driver, the likelihood of injury is significant.

The three main causes of fatal accidents remain drunk driving, speeding and distracted driving. Despite significant efforts to lower the risk posed by drivers under the influence, alcohol remains involved in one-third of all fatal accidents. Distracted driving was a factor in 10 percent of all fatal crashes, according to the NHTSA. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speeding is involved in 30 percent of all fatal crashes. Failure to use a seatbelt and other unsafe behaviors play a role in the remaining fatalities.

Hopefully, 2016 will see a decrease in fatal accidents, but not because of fewer motorists on the road. Ideally, efforts made to address human error will ultimately lower the overall risk of driving in the U.S.

About the Firm

Kraft Davies Olsson PLLC, is a personal injury law firm in Seattle, Washington. For legal help in the wake of a car accident, contact us to discuss your options and to see about holding negligent drivers accountable for the harm caused to you and your family.