With all the advances in vehicle safety in recent years, one would assume that traffic fatalities would be on the downswing. Unfortunately, that assumption would be wrong. Despite air bags, back-up cameras, anti-lock brakes, and other safety equipment, the National Safety Council estimates that were more traffic deaths last year than in almost a decade.
According to a report by the Council earlier this week, close to 40,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2016, marking the most drastic two-year escalation in over 50 years. In addition to those killed in traffic accidents, another 4 to 5 million individuals received medical treatment for injuries suffered in car, truck, and motorcycle wrecks.
Possible Reasons for the Increase in Traffic Fatalities
The Council also released a survey that may explain, at least in part, the increased number of automobile accident deaths. In the survey, the majority of drivers admitted that they were "comfortable" speeding, and nearly half had no problem texting while driving. A significant number of those surveyed admitted to even riskier behavior, including drinking and driving and operating a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana.
While speeding, drunk driving, and drug use have long been common factors in car accidents, the problem of texting and other use of electronics behind the wheel is relatively new. The official federal government website for distracted driving points out that sending or reading a text message requires a driver to take his or her eyes off the road for an average of five seconds - the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with one's eyes closed.
Recommendations by the Council
The report also made several recommendations for what it called "life-saving measures" that could, hopefully, vastly decrease the number of annual traffic deaths in the United States. Among these recommendations are increased usage of ignition interlock devices for those who have been convicted of drunk driving, automated enforcement techniques aimed at deterring speeders, mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, a three-tier operator licensing system for drivers under the age of 21, more stringent seat belt laws, and a national ban on all cell phone usage by drivers.
While these recommendations would go far toward preventing future traffic fatalities, the reality is that the implementation of even some of these provisions would take a considerable amount of time and, likely, be met with much resistance. In the meantime, those who have lost loved ones in fatal traffic accidents have the right to seek monetary compensation through a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit. While filing suit does not bring back the loved one, a settlement or judgment can be of great assistance in paying the deceased family member's final expenses and replacing the lost income of a primary breadwinner.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Atlanta Car Accident Attorney
If you have recently lost a loved one in a fatal traffic accident, you should talk to an attorney about your legal rights. At the Law Offices of T. Andrew Miller, LLC, we are in the business of helping families seek maximum compensation following an Atlanta car accident caused by another person's negligence. We will be glad to meet with you to explain the process of filing a claim. To get started on your case with a free consultation, call us at (678) 894-4758. We serve clients throughout the greater Atlanta area, as well as elsewhere in Georgia.