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Traffic fatalities increase in 2015

Texas drivers may be interested to learn there was a significant increase in U.S. traffic fatalities in 2015, according to government statistics. The jump, which comes after years of steady declines, prompted the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation to ask researchers and safety experts to find ways to reverse the trend.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported there were 35,092 car accident deaths last year, which is a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. The number represents the largest single-year increase since 1966. Traffic deaths were approximately 25 percent higher a decade ago, but increased use of seat belts, improvements in vehicle safety technology and fewer drunk drivers caused fatalities to go down.

However, the amount of vehicle miles traveled increased 3.5 percent in 2015, which is the largest jump in 25 years. Officials say the extra travel, sparked by lower gas prices and an improving economy, is partially to blame for the increase in fatalities. Other top causes involved drivers and passengers engaging in risky behaviors. For example, half the deaths came from vehicle occupants not wearing seat belts, 30 percent were caused by speeding or drunk driving and 10 percent involved distracted driving.

Car crashes injure thousands of Texas residents each year. Individuals injured in a car crash caused by a drunk driver or a distracted driver may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. By using accident investigation reports, witness testimony and other crash scene evidence, it may be possible to prove the at-fault driver is legally responsible for a victim's injuries. A successful lawsuit could lead to an award for medical expenses, loss of income and other related damages.

Source: NPR, "Traffic Deaths In 2015 Climb By Largest Increase In Decades," Richard Gonzales, Aug. 29, 2016

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