The residents of Cary, North Carolina, should take note that in 2015, for the first time since 1965, the number of fatalities on the roadways across the country rose over the number of fatalities in the previous year. Specifically, the 35,092 deaths in 2015 marked a 7.2 percent increase over the number of deaths in 2014.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a government agency which among other things monitors and regulates the commercial trucking business, the predominant trend has been for fatalities on the roads to decrease. Law enforcement and safety awareness campaigns targeting risky behavior like drunk driving have helped, as have improvements in technology.
The NHTSA's report noted that a healthier economy and lower fuel costs have meant people get on the roads more often and drive for longer distances. Statistically, this means the possibility of more accidents. The report also suggests driver negligence has played a role in the increase, noting that 1 in 3 accidents involve a driver who was either impaired or who was driving too fast for the conditions. Moreover, 10 percent of fatal accidents involved a distracted driver. The report also noted an uptick in deaths among bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.
In context, the number of traffic fatalities is still lower, by almost 25 percent, than it was even 10 years ago. Still, for those North Carolina families who have experienced the recent loss of a loved one in a traffic accident, this report is probably disturbing. Everyone who drives on the road has a duty to do so carefully, and if a person's negligence causes a traffic death, that driver can be held financially responsible.