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U.S. Traffic Deaths Spike in First Half of 2015

By: Allan M. Siegel

After seeing steady declines due in part to advances in car safety features and increased enforcement of drunk driving laws, traffic deaths in the United States jumped 8.1 percent during the first half of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the troubling numbers in late November.

In a press release published in reaction to the increased traffic fatality numbers, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated that all motorists have a responsibility for safety on the road and that automakers, safety advocates, and governments at all levels need to reassess efforts to combat threats. He also noted that USDOT will redouble its efforts to improve safety on public roads and highways.

DC Car Accident Attorneys

NHTSA plans to launch a variety of new initiatives designed to combat the rise in auto accident deaths on U.S. highways. The federal agency will hold regional meetings will address a variety of problematic driving behaviors:

  • Drowsy, drugged, drunk, and distracted driving
  • Negligent behavior such as not using seatbelts and child seats
  • Failure to protect and share the road with pedestrians and cyclists
  • Unsafe driving speed

Deaths in drunk driving crashes represent approximately one-third of traffic fatalities and half of individuals who died in traffic accidents were not wearing seatbelts. According to NHTSA’s data collection system, about 94 percent of crashes are caused by human factors.

Lower gas prices and an improved economy may be causing Americans to drive more often, which is in turn causing more car accidents, according to NHTSA analysts. Vehicle miles traveled during the first half of 2015 increased about 3.5 percent year-over-year, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). For the first half of 2015, about 16,225 people died in motor vehicle crashes. During the same period in 2014, motor vehicle traffic fatalities totaled 15,014.

In its traffic fatality, NHTSA splits the U.S. into 10 regions. The region include Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia saw a 13% year-over-year jump in traffic fatalities from January to June in 2015. To compile the data, NHTSA analyzes police accident reports, its own data reporting system, and FHWA estimates.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our auto accident attorneys have been helping injured victims and their families throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia for decades. Our team of litigators and legal professionals are tasked with helping the victims of traffic accidents and their families seek redress against wrongdoers. The NHTSA data is troubling, but some perspective is warranted. During the first half of 2006, traffic fatalities totaled 20,500, which is more than 126 percent higher than 2015’s number. Although these latest figures are disturbing, it’s clear that safety advances, awareness campaigns about the dangers of texting and driving, and other initiatives are having a positive impact.

Contact us today to discuss your case and rights.