Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released an “Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2015,” projecting that some 35,200 motor vehicle accident fatalities occurred nationally last year.
The good news is that this number, while tragic, is lower than the 43,510 fatalities that happened 10 years earlier. In fact, the number of traffic fatalities has been dropping steadily since 2005, except for a 4% increase in 2012. Unfortunately, if the NHTSA’s report is accurate, 2015 saw a 7.7% increase in the overall number of fatalities on U.S. roadways.
When divided into quarters, the period from July to September saw the most fatalities – 9,750. This was the highest number of third-quarter fatalities since 2008. The smallest increase came during October to December, but that number (9,300) was still at its highest since 2008.
Possible Reasons for the Increase
You may be thinking that there is an obvious reason for an increase in the number of fatal accidents: an increase in the overall population. However, it is worth noting that, even when measuring the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled (VMT) – a figure that should statistically account for population growth – there were still more fatalities in 2015 than in 2014, 2013, 2011, and 2010. Furthermore, the region that experienced the highest increase in fatalities was “Region 10,” which is made up of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana – probably not the nation’s growth center, so to speak.
Some other factors that may have contributed to the increased number of fatalities on our nation’s highways could be driver distraction (smart phone usage has increased drastically in the last 10 years), defective automobiles (the Wall Street Journal reported that more American vehicles were recalled in 2015 than ever before), or the many deteriorating roads across the country.
What Can Be Done to Combat the Increase in Fatal Accidents
Education about the dangers of distracted driving could be of some benefit in reducing overall highway deaths, especially given that there was a 10% increase in the number of fatalities involving young drivers. Heightened awareness of the need to share the road and to carefully observe crosswalks could also help, since there were significant percentage changes in the deaths of motorcyclists, pedestrians, and pedacyclists. (Interestingly, the lowest fatality increase was among drivers themselves, at just 6%.)
Holding negligent drivers accountable through tort litigation is another way to send a strong message against unsafe driving practices. Families who have lost a loved one in a traffic fatality should strongly consider hiring an attorney to explore the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit against the person whose actions led to their loved one’s death. This should be done promptly, since the statute of limitations limits the time for filing a car accident claim.
If You Have Lost a Loved One in a Car Accident
Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents claim far too many innocent lives on our nation’s roadways. If your family has been affected by a fatal motor vehicle collision, the Cape Cod traffic accident attorneys at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, have the experience, knowledge, and resources necessary to help you seek justice against the person whose negligent driving caused the accident. Call (888) 262-6664 to set up a free consultation regarding your loved one’s wrongful death.
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