Each year, rule-makers and private safety experts alike expect the annual fatality rate from traffic accidents to decrease; normally, the only question is how substantial the decrease will be from the previous year’s rate. However, 2015 holds the dubious distinction of being the first year since the 1960s where more people were killed in traffic accidents than in the previous year. In fact, the overall fatality rate rose by a sobering 7.7% in 2015, with an additional 2,500 individuals killed on American roadways over 2014’s total.
The statistics are the result of preliminary analysis of fatality statistics conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and may be amended after the federal rulemaking body has the opportunity to examine accident data more closely. Increased fatality rates occurred across nearly all categories of accident and vehicle. Driver deaths increased by 6%, and passenger death by 7%. Motorcyclists experienced a 9% jump in fatality rates, and fatal accidents involving large trucks jumped by 4%. Those on the road but not in a motor vehicle experienced some of the largest increases in fatality rate, with pedestrian deaths increasing by 10%, and bicyclist deaths rising by 13%.
One of the leading causes for increased fatality rates is an improving economy. As more people get jobs, they are forced to commute to work on a daily basis, increasing their miles traveled. Additionally, work affords greater disposable income, which can be spent on longer drives and road trips, as well as money that can be provided to teens to drive themselves. Additionally, falling gas prices made driving itself cheaper. However, the overall increase in vehicle miles traveled in 2015 was only 3.5%, leaving a large unexplained portion of the increased number of roadway deaths.
The administrator of the NHTSA, Mark Rosekind, explained that several factors tend to arise again and again in fatal accident investigations. “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,” he stated.
If you or someone you love has been hurt by a distracted, drunken, or otherwise negligent driver in Alabama, contact the People’s law firm of McPhillips Shinbaum for a consultation, at 334-262-1911. Let our family help yours.