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Traffic fatalities increased in 2016

No one can blame West Virginia motorists if they're perplexed by increasing traffic deaths coming at a time when cars have more safety features than ever. For the second straight year, the number of people killed in car accidents has increased.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says road fatalities reached 37,461 in 2016, an increase of almost 6 percent from 2015. In the years prior, however, traffic deaths had decreased. In 2007, 41,259 people were killed in car accidents, the highest in recent years, and the numbers had been going down until 2015. Officials believed the decrease to be due to automobiles having more safety features. These features include advanced air bags, rearview cameras and automatic braking systems.

While distracted drivers were blamed for the death increase in 2015, deaths caused by distracted drivers actually went down 2.2 percent. Other factors came into play for 2016 statistics. These include speeding by automobile drivers as well as failure of drivers and passengers to buckle up. According to the NHTSA, human decisions are responsible for more than 90 percent of fatal traffic accidents. The number of pedestrians killed in 2016 rose 9 percent; drunk driving deaths were up 1.7 percent, and there was a 5.1 percent increase in motorcycle deaths.

Loving loved ones in car accidents that might have been prevented is tragic. Families that have lost loved ones due to the negligence of another driver may be eligible for compensation through a wrongful death claim. If the deceased was the family's breadwinner, survivors might be eligible for loss of income compensation. A personal injury attorney may be able to explain the criteria for this claim and assist survivors in obtaining this compensation.

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
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