Indeed, this was a dramatic increase for just one year. In fact, the highest single-year jump since 1966 when there was an 8.1 percent increase over the previous year.
So who was dying in these crashes? The most vulnerable people on our roadways — people who were not inside vehicles — were usually the victims. Pedestrians and bicyclists were killed more last year than in any other year over the past 20 years. Motorcycle deaths were up 8 percent.
Additionally, human error and carelessness was a huge factor. Roughly half of those killed were not wearing seat belts. One in three of those killed were involved in crashes where drivers were drunk or speeding. Ten percent of the deaths were due to distracted drivers.
“You certainly can’t force someone to wear a seat belt and you can’t always stop people from drinking and driving, but if you keep reminding them and it saves one life it’s well worth it,” said Attorney James Johnson.
Despite the increase, the number of fatalities in the U.S. has dropped some 25 percent over the past decade from 42,708 deaths in 2005, the report said.
Federal authorities including the White House, the Department of Transportation and the NHTSA are joining together to investigate what caused the most recent growth in fatal crashes, but one likely cause is the drop in gas prices. Cheaper gas led to a 3.5 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled in 2015 compared to 2014, the report said. Other factors that may have contributed to the increased number of deaths is job growth and more young people driving for leisure.
There have been numerous vehicle safety improvements, but human error, dangerous road conditions and mechanical failures are always going to be factors.
Now the NHTSA is working with state and local officials, technologists, data scientists and experts in policy to find out exactly what caused this increase in an effort to stop further increases in the number of deaths.
The loss of a loved one in a traffic accident creates both emotional and financial issues for surviving family members. Johnson Attorneys Group has supported victims and their families in the aftermath of a catastrophic injury or when there is a loss of a loved one. There are important steps that must be taken. Call us to find out more at 800-235-6801 with a free consultation.
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