Why are United States traffic deaths on the rise?
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Why are United States traffic deaths on the rise?

Even though safety technology has been improving in the United States, traffic deaths have increased for the second year in a row. Safety advocates have taken notice.

Last Wednesday, the National Safety Council released the latest traffic fatality figures. The safety organizations estimates indicate that 40,200 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2016, representing a 6 percent increase from 2015. This marks the first time in a decade that over 40,000 people died in car accidents in the space of one year.

2015 saw a rise in deaths too, having increased 7 percent that year. The significant growth in traffic fatalities over this two-year period is the biggest rise our nation has seen in 50 years. What's going on? Why are so many people dying on our nation's roadways?

There are a lot of reasons for the increase in traffic fatalities. One of them relates to an improving economy and lower gas prices. Americans have more money to spend on gas, and historically, this has translated into more time spent driving and more cars on the road. The more people are on the road, the more people die in traffic accidents.

However, there is something more pressing that could be bringing driving dangers to a head: distracted driving. Smartphones have taken over North American culture to such a degree that virtually everyone has a smartphone, and many are using these devices while driving, even though it's extremely dangerous, irresponsible and illegal to do so. The traditional culprits also continue to take their toll: lack of seatbelt use, intoxicated driving and speeding.

If you or a loved one was injured or killed due to an intoxicated, distracted or speeding driver, you can seek justice and financial restitution in court. Still, it's best to avoid an injury or death in the first place, so all California drivers are encouraged to buckle up, drive safe, follow the rules and be extra attentive when driving.

Source: The New York Times, "Rise in U.S. Traffic Deaths Reported for a Second Year," Neal E. Boudette, Feb. 15, 2017

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