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Car accident deaths are on the rise in the United States, an alarming trend considering the myriad safety features that contemporary automobiles are equipped with such as airbags, rearview cameras, electronic stability control systems, and automated emergency braking systems.

In 2016, according to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle deaths totaled 40,200, a 6 percent increase from 2015 and the first time since 2007 the annual fatality total has exceeded 40,000.  

In 2015, 37,757 people died in car accident deaths, a 7 percent increase from 2014. The 2016 total marked a 14 percent increase from 2014 and is the largest jump in more than 50 years.

New Hampshire, Vermont, and Oregon saw the largest increases in car accident deaths between 2014 and 2016 with 49 percent, 45 percent, and 41 percent, respectively.

Other states that saw increases of 25 percent or more during the same two-year period were Alabama (27 percent), Colorado (30 percent), Georgia (34 percent), Idaho (36 percent), Iowa (26 percent), and Kentucky (25 percent).

A plurality of the states were in the teens or twenties in terms of percentage increases, while just eight states saw decreases.

Wyoming had the biggest drop, with 25 percent fewer car accident deaths, followed by North Dakota (17 percent), South Dakota (15 percent), Delaware (5 percent), Nebraska and Pennsylvania (2 percent) and Montana and West Virginia (1 percent).

Experts credit an uptick in the economy and the low cost of gasoline as large contributors to the growing number of drivers on the road.

The executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association told The New York Times in February 2017 that drivers are more distracted than ever thanks to texting and the ability to access other mobile applications like Facebook and Snapchat.

“It’s not just talking on the phone that’s a problem today,” Jonathan Adkins told the Times. “You now have all these other apps that people can use on their phones.”

Other safety advocates and government officials finger the spike in car accident deaths to “more lenient enforcement of seatbelt, drunken driving and speeding regulations by authorities and a reluctance by lawmakers to pass more restrictive measures.”

According to Car and Driver, citing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, just 11.5 percent of motorists reported not using seat belts in 2015, yet 48 percent of all vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unbelted.

And alcohol-impaired driving, according to the NHTSA statistics, played a role in 29 percent of the car accident deaths that year, which represents “a 3.2 percent year-over-year increase that was more in line with the overall increase in (vehicle miles traveled) than the death-rate spike.”

The estimated annual population death rate is 12.40 deaths per 100,000 population, an increase of 5% from the 2015 rate. The estimated annual mileage death rate is 1.25 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, an increase of 3% from the 2015 rate.

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced attorneys at McDonald Worley today for a FREE case evaluation by filling out the form on this page.