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Troubling Trend: Traffic Fatalities on the Rise

As San Diego injury lawyers, we are alarmed by recent statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While the report reveals that traffic fatalities dipped slightly in 2014, the trend is already reversing, with deaths spiking in 2015.

Every year, the NHTSA releases its Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) figures, which track the number of Americans who died on U.S. roadways. In 2014, 32,675 people died in motor vehicle accidents, which represents a 0.1 percent decrease from 2013. NHTSA research shows that in an estimated 94 percent of crashes, the critical cause was a human factor. The NHTSA crash data also revealed the following:

  • Drunk driving crashes accounted for approximately one-third of fatalities, resulting in 9,967 deaths in 2014.
  • Nearly half of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.
  • Motorcycle crashes resulted in 1,565 lives lost in 2014. The fatal accidents were far more likely to occur in states without strong helmet laws
  • Cyclist fatalities dropped by 2.3 percent, but pedestrian deaths increased by 3.1 percent over 2013 figures. In 2014, there were 726 cyclists and 4,884 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes.
  • Distracted driving played a role in 10 percent of all crash fatalities, killing 3,179 people in 2014.
  • Drowsy driving accounted for 2.6 percent of all traffic deaths; at least 846 people died in these crashes in 2014.

Overall, the fatality rate fell to a record-low of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which would normally be good news. Unfortunately, early estimates for the first six months of 2015 show an alarming spike in the number of fatalities. The 2015 fatality estimate is up 8.1 percent from the same period last year, and the fatality rate rose by 4.4 percent.

“These numbers are a call to action,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Everyone with a responsibility for road safety — the federal, state and local governments, law enforcement, vehicle manufacturers, safety advocates and road users — needs to reassess our efforts to combat threats to safety.”

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation. We encourage you to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.