VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

IIHS report blames improving economy for crash fatality increase

Florida roads have become more dangerous even with technological safety features in new vehicles, according to a study. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at the accident records of the various cars, pickup trucks and SUVs sold in the United States, and the nonprofit organization found that road fatalities are increasing around the country even among the drivers of newer vehicles equipped with sophisticated crash avoidance systems.

The IIHS reports that the driver death rate per million registered vehicle years for 2014 models was actually higher than it was for 2011 models, and these figures are expected to fall only slightly, if at all, over the next few years. Many road safety experts believe that increased road deaths are the result of lower energy prices and an economy that continues to create jobs. They say that these factors have prompted more Americans to take to the roads, and the higher accident and fatality figures are the inevitable consequence of this increased traffic congestion.

According to an IIHS study published in December 2015, falling unemployment figures cause both crash deaths and vehicle miles traveled to increase. The group's research also suggests that motorists tend to drive faster during times of economic prosperity. Experts say that lower gasoline prices have also contributed to the increase in fatalities as as they encourage discretionary driving during family vacations and visiting restaurants and malls.

While automobile safety systems have improved greatly over the last two decades, so have the mobile electronic devices used by motorists. Drivers distracted by small screens are becoming a disturbingly common sight, and the car crashes that this reckless behavior often lead to can be catastrophic. When distraction seems likely and police reports are inconclusive, attorneys representing accident victims may study cellphone records and the information recorded by automobile electronics systems for information that could be used to pinpoint responsibility.

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