Throughout the United States, data on car crashes is collected by law enforcement and reported to local authorities. Each year, this data is aggregated and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides a report on the total number of car accident deaths in the U.S. throughout the previous calendar year.
This month the agency released statistics for 2011, showing fatal traffic crashes declined almost two percent. While this positive headline may make it seem as if the roads are safer, our New York City accident attorneys have taken a closer look at the statistics and unfortunately the news isn’t all good.
NHTSA Data on Traffic Accidents in 2011
NHTSA Data on traffic accidents in 2011 indicates that the number of highway deaths is at the lowest level in more than six decades and that the number of highway fatalities has dropped as much as 26 percent since 2005. In their press release, NHTSA reports that these declines show the “historic downward trend” has continued. And the agency touted the overall decline, attributing it to the work of safety agencies and partners as well as public education campaigns.
While of course the decline in highway traffic deaths is good news, it is also important to look at all of the information provided by NHTSA data. Unfortunately, there are several key areas in which the number of fatalities has actually risen. For example:
- Among occupants of large trucks, fatalities increased by 20 percent. This is a huge increase and NHTSA has announced that they are working in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to attempt to discover the reason for the jump in fatalities.
- Among pedacyclists, the number of fatalities increased by 8.7 percent.
- Among pedestrians, the number of fatalities increased by 3 percent.
- Among motorcycle riders, the number of fatalities increased by 2.1 percent.
- The number of people who were killed in crashes involving distracted driving rose 1.9 percent between 2010 and 2011, with 3,331 people killed in a distracted-driving related crash in 2011 as compared with 3,267 people killed in 2010.
As these figures show, bicycle riders, pedestrians, truck drivers and motorcycles were all involved in more fatal traffic crashes in 2011 than in prior years. The decline in fatalities, therefore, was largely driven by a decline in the number of deaths in traditional passenger cars. In fact, according to NHTSA information, fatalities among occupants of passenger cars dropped by 4.6 percent. This drop may be attributed to safer drivers. But it may also be attributed to improvements in driver safety devices in vehicles, meaning that the accidents are no less serious but that the cars are simply safer.
Practicing Safe Driving
While these figures show that things may be getting better for drivers of passenger cars in terms of accident risks, the fact that the accident risk hasn’t dropped for everyone means that drivers need to continue to try to make improvements in safe driving. Every driver has a duty to others to exhibit care while driving and if a driver fails in this duty, he or she can be subject to a civil lawsuit by injured accident victims or by their surviving family members.
Contact the New York injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC, for a free consultation to discuss your case if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident. Call 1-877-313-ROSE (7673).
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