Preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that traffic deaths for the first nine months of 2016 surged eight percent compared to the same time during the previous year.
There were 27,875 traffic fatalities during this time-period last year, compared to 25,808 deaths in 2015. The 7.2 percent increase in traffic deaths in 2015 was the largest increase in 50 years. The new data suggests that 2016 was even deadlier.
This is a trend that does not appear to be slowing down, as there have been 25 traffic fatalities in Tennessee within the first two weeks of 2017, three more than the same period in 2016.
Uncertainty About the Cause of Rising Traffic Deaths
While U.S. traffic deaths increased as a whole, the fatality rate varied throughout different regions.
There was a 20 percent increase in auto accident fatalities throughout the six-state region that comprises New England, while western states recorded only a one percent increase in traffic fatalities. New York City’s accident fatality rate dropped by 23 percent.
The rise in traffic-related deaths has caused some confusion with safety experts, as it comes at a time when car manufacturers are including improved vehicle safety technology in more vehicles.
Traffic safety experts speculate the high fatality rate could be attributed to the growing number of drivers in the U.S. caused by the economic recovery and lower gas prices. However, the NHTSA stated that the administration has not found a relation between more drivers and a higher fatality rate, as the number of traffic fatalities has outpaced the increase in driving.
Although traffic deaths increased eight percent, vehicle miles traveled only increased three percent in the first nine months of 2016.
NHTSA officials theorize that weather patterns causing a warm climate and longer daylight hours could have contributed to the high fatality rate recorded in 2016, as people are more likely to drive for longer periods during warmer months.
Distracted driving has also caused a major concern for the NHTSA and other traffic safety experts. Drivers have shown an increased use of cellphones and other electronic devices while operating a vehicle.
It is imperative for motorists to practice responsible driving behaviors while operating a vehicle. Those who have been in an auto accident caused by a negligent driver may have legal options.
The Knoxville car accident attorneys at Greg Coleman Law will assist anyone who has been injured or loved a lost one in a traffic collision by providing a free, no obligation consultation to review your claim. Our injury attorneys will not charge you any fees unless we help you receive compensation in your case.