The number of motor vehicle fatalities nationwide increased by more than 8 percent last year, the largest single-year increase in more than 50 years, according to preliminary accident estimates.
The National Safety Council recently released such findings, as reported by the Hill. Overall, an estimated 38,300 people were killed and 4.4 million were seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2015, according to preliminary estimates compiled by the nonprofit organization.
Nationwide, 37 out of 50 states had more traffic fatalities in 2015 compared to 2014. The three states with the largest single year increases in the number of traffic fatalities in 2015 were:
- Oregon (27 percent) (357 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2014)
- Georgia (22 percent) (1,164 died in 2014)
- Florida (18 percent) (2,494 died in 2014)
Why were there so many fatal car accidents in 2015?
Many different factors likely contributed to the sharp increase in the number of traffic fatalities last year. One reason cited by the National Safety Council was the strength of the economy in 2015. Last year, the unemployment rate continued to decline for the fifth straight year since 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2015, the unemployment rate nationwide ranged from 5 to 5.7 percent.
Another reason cited by the council was the sharp decline in gas prices in 2015. Last year, gas prices fell by 28 percent compared to the previous year. In addition, the average number of miles driven last year increased by 3.5 percent compared to the previous year, according to the National Safety Council.
"These numbers are serving notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake in spite of decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements."
What can drivers do to prevent fatal auto accidents?
Such figures might seem overwhelming but there are steps drivers can take to reduce the number of traffic accidents. The National Safety Council recommends:
- Wearing a seatbelt
- Designating a sober driver if people are consuming alcohol
- Not driving while tired
- Not using a cellphone while driving
- Talking about safe driving habits with teenagers
- Learning more about the safety features in your vehicle
There are many other things drivers can do to avoid an accident:
- Driving at a safe speed
- Leaving a safe driving distance between vehicles (normally 2 to 3 seconds)
- Looking for motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists while driving
- Properly maintaining your vehicle (checking your brakes, tires, etc.)
Unfortunately, accidents can happen to even the safest drivers, often when they least expect it. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by another driver, contact our law firm today. We have decades of experience handling complicated car accidents throughout South Florida. Contact us online or call 1-800-608-2965 to schedule your free case evaluation. Our bilingual attorneys and staff can help you 24 hours a day.