When we are behind the wheel in a vehicle or are a passenger in an automobile, we generally believe we are safe. With modern technology, air bags and a strong, hard exterior shell, motorists and passengers feel comfortable knowing that all of these safety features are in place. While safety features are good and often mandatory in vehicles, these do not always prevent injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident.

According to current statistics based on federal data, the number of fatal accidents occurring on U.S. roadways increased last year. The National Highway Traffic Safety administration collected data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia in order to assess the seriousness of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Based on this data, a total of 37,461 traffic fatalities occurred in 2016. This is a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year, which experienced 35,485 traffic fatalities.

The rate of traffic fatalities also increased. This number is based on the number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roadways, which increased 2.2 percent in 2016. This brought the fatality rate up to 1.18 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. This is a 2.6 percent increase from the 2015 rate of 1.15.

When it comes to causes of these fatal crashes, it was reported that both distracted and drowsy driving caused less accidents in 2016 than the prior year. On the other hand, factors considered to be reckless behaviors increased as the cause of fatal collisions. These include acts such as speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing a seat belt.

A fatal accident could suddenly occur, generating much loss for the surviving family members. It can be a shocking and overwhelming situation; however, family members should understand their rights. If a negligent driver is to blame in a fatal accident, it is possible to hold that driver accountable. Through a personal injury claim, liability can be placed on the negligent driving and family members could collect compensation for the losses and damages related to the death of a loved one.

Source: Schoolbusfleet.com, “NHTSA: Traffic Fatalities Increased in 2016,” Thomas McMahon, Nov. 2, 2017