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Traffic accident fatalities up again in 2016

Venturing out onto the action’s roads is becoming increasingly hazardous for motorists in North Carolina and around the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest traffic accident fatality report, which was released on Oct. 6, reveals that fatalities have increased in two consecutive years. The 37,461 road users killed in 2016 represents a 5.6 percent year-over-year increase and is the highest highway death total since 41,259 died in 2007.

The NHTSA report will likely make sobering reading for road safety experts who blamed the 2015 surge in accident deaths on cellphone use and distracted driving. The federal safety agency reports that distracted driving deaths actually fell slightly in 2016, but fatal accidents involving pedestrians and motorcyclists rose sharply. The biggest increase was an alarming 9 percent rise in pedestrian deaths, and the evidence suggests that most of these fatalities were caused by negligent or reckless drivers.

Researchers believe that 94 percent of major car accidents are caused by some sort of human error, and efforts to address negligent driving behavior have done little to address the problem. Vehicle safety systems that are designed to anticipate crashes and take action to avoid them have not been able to stem the rise in accident fatalities, but it is hoped that the development of self-driving cars will lead to a paradigm shift in road safety.

In addition to facing possible criminal charges, negligent motorists who cause fatal accidents may also be sued by the dependent family members of their victims. Families are often left financially vulnerable when a breadwinner is killed, and experienced personal injury attorneys may take great care calculating the damages in wrongful death cases to ensure that they are seeking enough to cover their client’s losses.

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