The Disturbing Trend in Traffic Fatalities

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While Minnesota and other states have implemented drive to zero initiatives, traffic fatalities continue on an upward trend, increasing by 6 percent in 2016. Experts attribute the increase in fatalities to several factors, including more people on the road because of an improved economy, distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving and other negligent driving behaviors. A personal injury attorney cautions everyone to drive safely so that they might reduce the risks that they pose to themselves and to others traveling around them.

2016 Crash Estimates

The National Safety Council released a report on Feb. 14 about the 2016 estimates for traffic fatalities. According to the report, 40,200 people were killed in accidents on the nation’s roadways during the year. This was an increase over the number of people who were killed in 2015 of 6 percent and an increase over 2014 of 14 percent. The NSC reports that the number of fatalities in 2016 was the highest since 2007, and it points to several factors that are likely causes.

Factors Driving the Increase in Fatalities

The National Safety Council identified the improved economy as one factor driving the fatality increase in 2016. As more people have returned to work and gasoline prices have fallen, more motorists are traveling on the nation’s highways. While fatalities trended upward in the U.S., Minnesota actually showed a slight decline. The NSC reports that 398 people in the state were killed in traffic accidents in 2016, which was down from the 409 who died in 2015. While the state experienced a 3 percent decline compared to 2015, the number of fatalities in 2016 is still 11 percent higher than the 358 who were killed in traffic accidents in 2014.

In addition to a better economy and cheaper gasoline, the NSC has pointed out several driver factors that are contributing to the upward trend in fatalities. Despite educational programs and enforcement efforts, drivers continue to engage in problematic behaviors including impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding and others. The advocacy group specifically highlighted distracted driving, calling for a need to focus on texting while driving across the U.S.

Among its other findings, the NSC found that 47 percent of drivers reported texting while driving and 10 percent reported driving while impaired. Forty-three percent of the impaired drivers were involved in accidents while they were drunk. A personal injury attorney sees the results of negligent driving behavior when people are killed or injured.