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More Deaths on US Roads for Third Year Straight

holding phone and driving at the sametime

A new report reveals that, for the third straight year, more people died on US roads than during the year before. This rising trend in motor vehicle deaths comes after 50 years of annual declines in motor vehicle fatalities, and according to many experts, is due in large part to mobile phone use.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 37,461 people died while in or near a motor vehicle in 2016. In other words, an average of 100 people each day died on US roads last year. This is a 5.6% rise over 2015’s total, and marks a 14.4% rise between 2014 and 2016.

The causes of the uptick in fatal injuries is somewhat in dispute. According to the NHTSA’s report, distracted driving deaths were down in 2016, compared to 2015 totals. The report indicates that under 500 total fatalities were caused by a driver who was distracted by their mobile phone. However, many experts believe that this number is flawed.

For one thing, NHTSA bases its annual reports on statistics received from local law enforcement agencies. In other words, if local law enforcement doesn’t classify the accident as one caused by a distracted driver, then neither will NHTSA, even if another analyst or law enforcement body would have deemed it related to mobile phone use. Since identifying when a driver was using a phone at the time of the crash often relies on the driver admitting to this behavior, it’s hard to know when this is the true cause of a crash.

The National Safety Council, a private safety group, conducted its own research into NHTSA’s numbers on distracted driving-related deaths. It found that, among fatal accidents where mobile phone use was found to be a contributing factor, only about half of these were classified in the NHTSA report as being caused by a phone distraction.

Experts also point out that the types of fatal injuries that are increasing seem tied to mobile phone use, as well. Pedestrian deaths have risen by 22% in the past three years, and bicycle and motorcycle deaths have also risen at a faster rate than have those of motor vehicle occupants. Experts suggest that, when a driver is only occasionally looking up from their phone at the road ahead, they aren’t conducting a thorough scan of their visual field. While they might not miss other passenger vehicles, they’re more likely to miss smaller objects, like people or bicycles. When drivers allows themselves to become distracted by their mobile phone prior to causing an accident, victims can use evidence of this behavior to support a claim for damages in a New Jersey personal injury lawsuit.

If you’ve been seriously injured in a New Jersey car or truck accident, find out if you have a meritorious suit based on your injuries by contacting the knowledgeable and seasoned personal injury lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a free consultation, at 973-532-9681.

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