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Why are traffic accidents fatalities still going up?

When the economy was shuttered and people were worried about the future back in 2020, there was a correlating rise in car accident fatalities in New York and across the country. Even though there were fewer cars out on the road, when factoring in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the death rate spiked by 24% over the previous year, marking the highest jump in close to a century.

Law enforcement and government agencies attributed the rise to risky driving behaviors such as distracted or impaired driving and other reckless tendencies. Drivers on empty roads stepped on the gas and took their eyes off the road more often. But now that things are more like they used to be, some drivers apparently haven’t changed their driving habits.

How does 2021 look so far?

But the economy is recovering, and in many sectors, there are more job opportunities than workers to fill them. In spite of this, 2021 is looking to be another banner year for traffic accidents, with an estimated 16% spike in fatalities in the first six months of 2021. In addition, in terms of injuries, deaths and property damage, traffic accidents have already cost $241.9 billion.

Are there steps we can take to change what is happening?

The National Safety Council (NSC) has called on the current administration to address these statistics by endorsing guidance on life-saving measures to reduce the current trends. Some of these steps the NSC recommends include:

  • Implementing road safety laws and infrastructure across all economic sectors, as poor and inner-city communities are hit harder by traffic incidents, poor infrastructure and lack of access to public transportation

  • Requiring mandatory ignition interlock devices for convicted impaired drivers and lowering the BAC limits

  • Enforcing or passing seatbelt and helmet laws

  • Installing automated enforcement of speed and traffic light laws

  • Addressing pedestrian and bicyclist safety issues

  • Banning cellphone and hands-free use for all drivers, not just teens

There are many reasons that accidents happen. For people in New York City who have suffered injuries in a motor vehicle wreck due to the negligence of others, it is important to seek restitution that will cover the medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and trauma that a comprehensive compensation claim will address.

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