Increase in vehicle-related fatalities in 2015

California residents may be surprised to learn that, despite the advancement in vehicle safety features, more than 35,000 individuals died in car wrecks in 2015. Compared with 2014, this number is a 7.2 percent increase and reflects the the largest single-year percentage increase since the 1960s, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

However, in 2006, almost 43,000 motorists died in traffic accidents, far higher than the 2015 figures. The steady decline up until 2015 has been attributed to innovative vehicle safety features, such as electronic stability control, air bags, lane-keep assist and collision warning systems. There were fewer people driving under the influence of alcohol and more people using their seat belts as well.

A factor in the increased amount of traffic-related fatalities in 2015 was the higher amount of drivers on the road due to lower gasoline prices and an increase in jobs. In fact, the total amount of vehicle miles traveled during 2015 was nearly 4 percent higher than the VMT in 2014 and was the highest increase in more than two decades, according to NHTSA findings.

The report additionally noted that speeding or intoxicated drivers were involved in around 30 percent of the fatal accidents in 2015 and that distracted driving was a factor in nearly 10 percent of fatal crashes for that year. Officials also said that approximately half of those who died that year were not using their seat belts.

The surviving family members of a person who has been killed in a car accident caused by a negligent driver may want to have the assistance of an attorney in filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault motorist. A successful outcome could bring compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial contribution and other amounts.

Source: NPR, "Traffic Deaths In 2015 Climb By Largest Increase In Decades", Richard Gonzales, Aug. 29, 2016

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