Higher traffic deaths have many causes

The rise in Ohio traffic deaths is increasing the likelihood of wrongful death legal actions in this country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a report that the number of traffic fatalities in this country increased last year by 5.6 percent to 37,461. This accounted for 102 deaths in this country each day in vehicle crashes.

The NHTSA cited on-the-road hazards that limit the safety benefits of improved occupant protection and crash-avoidance technology. Fatalities attributed to drunk driving rose by 1.7 percent. Deaths caused by driving at excessive speed climbed by four percent. Distracted driving is still a problem but deaths associated with that behavior dropped by 2.2 percent.

An improving economy is usually blamed for these increases. Motorists in this country drove record-setting 3.2 trillion miles in 2016, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Vehicle miles traveled rose by 3.5 percent in 2015 and another 2.2 percent last year. However, by comparison, traffic deaths rose at the greater rates of 8.4 percent in 2015 and 5.6 percent in 2016.

Deaths in auto accidents over this two-year period equal the spike in deaths from 1963 to 1964. This provoked the creation of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the 1960s.

The statistics were also disturbing for vehicle non-occupants that are also known as vulnerable road users and who comprise a third of deaths. The number of pedestrian deaths rose to 5,987 which was a 9 percent increase from 2015 and the highest number since 1990.

Bicyclists killed in crashes rose 1.3 percent to 840, which was the highest number, recorded since 1991. Motorcycle deaths grew by 5.1 percent to 5,286 that is the highest since 2008.

The National Safety Council provided some slightly positive news. Traffic deaths for the first six months of 2017 were approximately one percent lower than its statistics for the first half of 2016. However, the second half of a year is usually fatal and it is too early to determine whether the trend in traffic deaths has leveled off.

As this danger persists, families who lose a loved one may need to seek compensation where the death was caused by negligent or reckless behavior. An attorney can help these families seek their rights in a wrongful death cause of action.

Source: Car and Driver, "New stats show traffic deaths continue their stubborn climb," Pete Bigelow, Oct. 9, 2017

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