Report: 2015 saw significant increase in traffic-related deaths

The year 2015 saw a sharp increase in traffic-related fatalities, ending a five-decade-long decline in such deaths, according to a recent report.

Motor vehicle accidents are all too common on the roads in Missouri, and throughout the U.S. As a result of such collisions, people may suffer serious injuries or even death. With vehicle improvements and increased awareness of the dangers motorists face on the roads, traffic-related deaths had been on the decline. However, according to a recent report, 2015 saw a sharp increase in traffic fatalities.

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that auto accidents caused 35,092 deaths across the U.S. in 2015. This marks a 7.2 percent increase over 2014's numbers. The occurrences of pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist deaths also increased. In response to this uptick in traffic-related fatalities, the White House, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the NHTSA have asked policy and safety experts, state and local officials, data scientists and technologists to investigate how these types of collisions and the resulting deaths can be prevented.

Common causes of motor vehicle accidents

Human factors are largely a factor in many motor vehicle collisions. Perhaps the most publicized, and most common, of these is alcohol intoxication. Alcoholic beverages, once consumed, may cause a range of impairments, including slowed reaction times, vision disturbances and altered judgment. This may compromise people's ability to safely operate motor vehicles, and increase their chances of being involved in a collision.

More and more attention is being given to driver distractions. Distracting behaviors are anything that takes a motorist's attention off the task of driving, eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. When people are talking on cellphones, text messaging or are otherwise engaged in distracting behaviors, they may not notice hazards that appear on the road or changes in the driving conditions. This may contribute to an increased risk of being involved in an auto accident.

Often overlooked, driving at speeds in excess of the posted speed limit can be dangerous for drivers, their passengers and those with whom they are sharing the road. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, 395 people were killed in speed-related crashes between 2012 and 2014. At high speeds, motorists may lose control of their vehicles more easily, or be unable to slow or stop quickly enough to avoid other vehicles or hazards on the road. Furthermore, the impact of car collisions may be more severe at higher speeds, resulting in more serious injuries and deaths.

Pursuing financial compensation

Despite regulations and vehicle improvements aimed at improving traffic safety, motor vehicle accidents resulting in injuries and deaths still occur on the roads throughout Missouri. This may lead to damages, including lost wages, undue medical costs and funerary expenses. While nothing can bring back a loved one that is lost in a car crash, obtaining compensation for the lost income and other losses may help families to cope during an already challenging time. Thus, it may benefit those who have experienced such situations to discuss their rights and options with an attorney.