VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Car crash fatalities reach a nine-year high

In Florida and the rest of the U.S., car crash fatalities are on the rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 37,461 people died in car, motorcycle and pedestrian accidents in 2016. According to NHTSA data, the last time the number was this high was in 2007, when 41,259 people were killed.

Driver mistakes were a major factor in the increase. For example, speeding deaths rose by 4 percent, deaths caused by safety belt neglect by 4.6 percent and drunk driving deaths by 1.7 percent. There was also a 9 percent jump in pedestrian fatalities and a 5.1 percent rise in motorcycle deaths.

This trend has some people worried that advances in safety technology are not benefiting drivers. Safety has improved through automatic emergency braking, rear-view cameras, lane departure warning systems and advanced air bags. However, some devices are known to distract drivers; a AAA study showed that in-car touchscreen systems are a major source of distraction.

Back in 2016, the Obama administration proposed to eliminate car crash fatalities within the next 30 years, mainly by advocating self-driving vehicles. A proposal has been approved by the House of Representatives that would grant automakers certain exemptions when deploying self-driving cars.

In the event of a car accident, the victim may seek legal counsel to determine if he or she has a viable injury claim. If there's a fatality, family members could consider filing a wrongful death suit, which may cover any pre-death medical bills and funeral expenses. If the deceased was the breadwinner of the family, a lawsuit may be able to bring in compensation for loss of support. The lawyer is likely to hire investigators to find any evidence of driver distraction or recklessness.

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