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Cape Cod Personal Injury Blog

Largest increase in fatal traffic accidents on U.S. roads in decades

Recently, the government released data that indicates that there is a serious issue with safety on the roads and highways of the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 35,000 people died last year in traffic accidents. Based on this figure, the number of people who died from traffic accidents increased 7.2 percent from 2014 to 2015. The last time the percentage of traffic deaths increased so much in a single year was in 1966, when Lyndon B. Johnson served as president. 

After the data was released, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx issued a call to action asking the public to study the fatality data, make changes, and develop strategies to prevent any further increase in fatality risk. He made a separate statement to issue a call-to-action to safety experts, researchers, and data scientists to take action.

Risk remains despite safety improvements

Officials state that the number of people who died from traffic accidents was about 25 percent higher just 10 years ago. In 2005, about 43,000 died due to traffic accidents. However, stricter DUI laws, vehicle improvements like electronic stability control and airbags, and an increase in the use of seatbelts have caused the number of deaths to decline steadily for the past few years.

These officials state that the increase in the percentage of traffic deaths last year can be attributed to there being more drivers on the road. Due to lower gas prices and increased job growth, motorists are also covering more ground annually.

According to the NHTSA, the number of vehicles miles traveled in 2015 increased 3.5 percent from the number of vehicle miles traveled in 2014. This rise represents the biggest increase in almost 25 years.

Since there are more people on the roads, it makes sense that there will be more fatalities among motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Motorcycle deaths accounted for about 8 percent of all traffic fatalities last year.

According to officials, the main three causes of the rise in traffic deaths are:

  • Distracted driving, which played a role in about 10 percent of all traffic deaths
  • Failure to wear seatbelts, which accounts for about 50 percent of all traffic deaths
  • Drunk driving, which accounts for about one-third of all fatalities on the road

The public needs to work together to effect change when it comes to these high traffic fatality figures. People who have been seriously injured in a car accident, or who have had a loved one tragically pass away in an accident, may be able to obtain legal and financial help through a lawsuit. 

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