Another Year of Rising Fatalities on American Roads

For decades, as safety technology in vehicles improved and public awareness of safe driving behavior increased, the total number of fatalities on American roads fell year after year. Beginning in 2014, however, a troubling trend took hold wherein more and more people are dying on US roads each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently released the roadway fatality statistics for 2016, which show that the trend has continued for another year.

According to the NHTSA, 2016 saw the deaths of 37,461 while in or near a motor vehicle. In other words, an average of 100 people died every day in 2016 in a motor vehicle-related accident. This number is an increase of 5.6% over the total number of roadway fatalities recorded in 2015. This number also means that there has been an increase of 14.4% in the annual number of deaths on the road between 2014 and 2016.

One category of fatalities that has seen a particularly stark increase has been among pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists—so-called “non-vehicle occupants.” Non-vehicle occupants accounted for 33% of all roadway fatalities in 2016, but this share used to be much smaller. In fact, non-vehicle occupants made up only 25% of all roadway deaths as of ten years ago. Deaths among pedestrians has risen 22% since 2014, and the number of fatally-injured motorcyclists and bicyclists has risen 15% respectively in that time.

The reasons for the increase in roadway deaths has been subject to some disagreement among experts. According to the NHTSA, phone distractions accounted for a mere 448 deaths on the road in 2016, but other safety organizations estimate that this number is much higher. The private nonprofit safety group National Safety Council, for example, found in its own investigation that the NHTSA only considered about half of all accidents where distraction from a phone was involved as being caused by mobile phone distraction. Law enforcement often find it difficult to determine whether a phone was involved in causing a crash, since learning this fact relies on either the driver confessing to using their phone, or to an eyewitness happening to see the driver use their phone immediately before a crash. Victims of accidents caused by distracted drivers may have a right to money damages, and they can support their claims of negligence by including evidence that the at-fault driver used their phone near the time of a crash.

For assistance getting the damages you deserve after an Oregon motor vehicle accident, contact the seasoned, compassionate, and effective Bend personal injury lawyers at Dwyer Williams Dretke Attorneys, P.C. for a consultation, at 541-617-0555.