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Traffic Fatalities Increased by Over 7% in 2015


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic deaths rose by 7.2% in 2015, ending a 50-year trend of annual reductions in fatality rates. In an era of constant improvements in built-in vehicle safety features, researchers are left scratching their heads as to why fatality rates are rising.

Fatality rates rise in all forms of accident

All told, the preliminary data reveals that 2,348 additional lives were lost in 2015 over the number killed in traffic accidents in 2014. The last time fatalities rose this much in a single year was 1966, when fatalities increased by 8.1% over 1965’s rates. Motorcyclist death rates increased by 8%, and fatality rates among pedestrians and cyclists increased by 9.5% and 12.2%, respectively. Overall, an additional 100,000 people were injured on US roadways in 2015 as compared to 2014.

Officials puzzle at the increase

What exactly made 2015 so much more lethal than past years is not entirely clear. The NHTSA does report that the total miles driven across the country increased by 3.5% over 2014, which is the largest increase in miles driven in 25 years. This increase in driving seems to have been spurred by a reduction in fuel prices, increased employment rates, and an increase in driving among young people. In order to determine the other root causes of this increase in fatal accidents, the NHTSA, Department of Transportation, and White House have joined together to issue a call to action, asking safety researchers and advocates, state and local officials, and data scientists to examine the causes at play and to share sources of data and visualization technologies.

Several causes arise time and again

According to the NHTSA, several factors arise in a large share of fatal accidents: failure to wear a seatbelt, distraction, drunkenness, and speed. Nearly half of all those killed in passenger vehicle accidents were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. The NHTSA reports that 10% of all crashes involve some form of distracted driving, based on police reports and statements made by those involved in the crash. However, analysis of this data by other safety researchers reveals that the true rate of distracted driving is likely much higher, and is underreported by those who do not want to admit to driving while distracted. NHTSA administrator, Dr. Mark Rosekind, noted, “the data tell us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, or drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled. While there have been enormous improvements in many of these areas, we need to find new solutions to end traffic fatalities.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in New Jersey where the at-fault driver was drunk, distracted, or otherwise irresponsible, contact the seasoned and trial-ready personal injury lawyer Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation on your case, at 973-532-9681.

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