Federal Road Safety Group Announces Another Year of Rising Vehicle Deaths
Posted on : November 8, 2017
by : Carlos Alvarez Tostado
New data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that yet more Vehicle Deaths occurred on the road in 2016 as compared to 2015. The causes of the increase in deaths are somewhat in dispute, but many experts believe the true cause is an increase in behind-the-wheel phone use.
According to the NHTSA’s newly-released report, 37,461 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2016. In different terms, this means that for every day of 2016, 100 people died while in or near a vehicle. The annual rate of traffic deaths has increased by 14.4% in the past two years alone. Not only have drivers and their passengers been dying at accelerated rates, but other road occupants have also suffered from increasing fatalities. In 2007, non-vehicle occupants—namely, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists—accounted for 25% of all fatalities in traffic accidents. In 2016, this share rose to nearly 33%. The rate of pedestrian deaths alone has grown by 22% in two years; 5,697 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents last year. The fatality rate among motorcyclists and bicyclists has also grown by about 15% in each category.
Is mobile phone use to blame for the increase in fatal automobile accidents?
Cell phone use has indisputably increased in recent years, with roughly 80% of all Americans now claiming that they use their phones to get news updates and post photos to social media. Despite the increase in fatalities and modest increase in total vehicle miles traveled in 2016, the NHTSA claims that the rate of fatal accident caused by mobile phone distraction decreased last year, accounting for only 448 deaths in 2016. This is despite data showing that 88% of drivers use their phones at some point during a drive, and an otherwise-unexplained rise in traffic deaths.
The private safety nonprofit National Safety Council (NSC) takes issue with how the NHTSA counts traffic fatalities caused by mobile phone use. The NSC conducted its own research on the issue and found that, in half of the cases where cell phone use by an at-fault driver was found to have occurred, the NHTSA did not code it as an accident caused by mobile phone use. Stopdistractions.org founder Jennifer Smith also disagrees with the NHTSA interpretation of the data. “Honestly, I think the real number of fatalities tied to cell phones is at least three times the federal figure. We’re all addicted and the scale of this is unheard of.”
California has made it illegal to use a handheld mobile device while behind the wheel. Drivers who are distracted by their phones when involved in a crash could end up being liable for a large amount of damages to their victims. California accident victims should contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident with a distracted driver.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash with a distracted driver in Southern California, get help seeking the damages you’re owed by contacting the seasoned and effective San Diego personal injury lawyers at the Banker’s Hill Law Firm for a consultation, at 619-230-0330.