Amidst all of the other big headlines of 2016, here’s one that you may have missed: just looking at the first half of the year, our country saw a 9% increase in fatal auto accidents over the first half of 2015.
In the first six months of 2015, around 17,500 died in car crashes. This year, over 19,000 people died over the same period of time.
The numbers for Florida are even worse. A lot worse. Compared to the 9% increase in fatal auto accidents in the country as a whole, our state experienced a shocking 43% jump!
What’s going on? How do we stop this? What can you do if you have experienced a loss in this way?
Why So Many More Fatal Auto Accidents?
There’s not just one reason to point to that explains why there has been such a huge increase in fatal car accidents. Some of the factors that may be contributing to the high number of fatalities include:
Growing Economy. That’s right. This may not seem like something that would cause an increase in auto accidents, but if you really think about it there’s logic to the idea.’
When the economy is growing and unemployment is low, more people are going to be opting for cars instead of public transportation to get to work. Moreover, they’re more likely to do things like drive to the store to go shopping or go on vacations.
Crowded Roadways. This one his closely related to the above. More people with money to burn means more people on the road. Add in the fact that gas prices are so low right now and it’s easy to see why people might be more encouraged to get out there and drive. More drivers mean more auto accidents – even if driver behavior itself hasn’t changed. Which it has. Case-in-point…
More Technology. Technology is supposed to be a good thing, and certainly there have been recent technological advancements that have made cars safer. However, technology also has a powerful ability to distract.
Let’s take texting, for example. On average, sending or reading a text will take your eyes off the road for just under five seconds. That doesn’t sound too bad, but if you’re driving 55 miles per hour, that five seconds will take you a distance equal to a whole football field.
Even if you aren’t texting: you may messing around with your GPS, trying to respond to a work email, picking which album you want to listen to, or connecting your passengers’ phones to your car’s new Bluetooth system. All of these behaviors are considered “distracted driving” and put you at a serious risk for an auto accident.
Other Forms of Negligence. Technology may be contributing to negligent driving, but it certainly didn’t start the trend. People have all kinds of ways of being negligent behind the wheel that can lead to car crash deaths:
- Drinking and driving. Don’t drink and drive. Just don’t do it.
- Not buckling up. Your seatbelt may not cause a car accident, but it could be the difference between life and death if you are hit by another driver.
- Ignoring the speed limit. Speed limits are enforced for a reason, but even driving at the speed limit could be considered negligent. If the weather causes low visibility, the road conditions are bad, or you’re in an area that calls for extra caution, driving at the speed limit may be considered negligence if your speed causes a car accident.
- Letting your car run down. Worn down tires or other lame parts can cause an accident, even if you are perfectly focused on the road and driving at a safe speed. Give your car a check-up every few months to make sure your vehicle itself is safe.
- Driving tired. Fatigue can be a distraction in and of itself, and no one wants to fall asleep at the wheel. All too often, though, people push themselves to keep going even though they know they shouldn’t. Stopping at a rest stop or pulling over to take a quick nap are well worth it because they will lower your risk of getting into an accident.
No one can stop technology from advancing, and the economy is always going to have its ups and downs that will impact auto accident numbers. We can’t change that.
What we can do is use, teach, and encourage safe driving practices. One way to do this is to hold responsible parties accountable if you are in an accident – especially if you lose someone.
A personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit isn’t about getting paid to make up for what happened to you. It’s about raising awareness and stopping anyone else from suffering like you. It’s about being able to cover your costs so that you and your family can recover and move forward with your lives. It’s about closure.
If you think you might have a viable negligence case, reach out to an experienced Florida personal injury attorney today to learn about your options.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.