Sobering news was released last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: traffic deaths across the country have risen 10.4% during the first six months of the year as compared to last year's data.
The data from NHTSA also notes that American drove an additional 50.5 billion miles in the first half of 2016 than in the same time period in 2015, which is a 3.3 percent increase. However, this still does not account for the hike in number of motor vehicle deaths, and officials are still attempting to explain the increase. The traffic safety administration has seen an increase in fatality rates for seven quarters in a row, beginning in late 2014, compared to previous years.
What can be done to save lives?
To combat the issue, federal officials have announced a "Road to Zero" coalition, which aims to end traffic and bicycle deaths completely over the course of the next 30 years. President Obama's administration also released new guidelines for driverless car technology last month, and promised more safety oversight. And the Department of Transportation stated that they are committing $3 million in grants over the next three years to promote safety solutions like increasing seatbelt usage and more "rumble strips" on the sides of roads.
Staying safe on the road
Traffic fatalities may be on the rise, but there are still plenty of tips and tricks to follow to help you stay safe on the while driving:
1. Eliminate distractions - when you're driving, your best defense is staying alert. Set your GPS or radio station before you leave. This especially means smart phones: silence your phone and keep it in the back seat or out of reach. If you must call or text, safely pull over before doing so.
2. Don't drive while impaired - Drunk drivers kill nearly 30 people each day in the United States. Always plan for a sober ride but if plans change, get a taxi, Uber or take public transport. You can always pick up your car in the morning.
3. Drive for the conditions, or don't drive - if a large storm is on the way, it's best to wait it out until it's over or don't drive at all to avoid deadly weather conditions. Know about traffic and any construction or closures before you leave so you aren't distracted trying to find another route.
4. Seatbelts - always wear your seatbelt. They reduce the risk of death by nearly half in a serious car accident, and 12,802 lives were saved by seatbelts in 2014 alone, according to the CDC.
If you or someone in your family was injured in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else's negligence, you'll need help navigating insurance and legal issues. The first step to take is to contact an experienced attorney to help you through the legal process and pursue potential compensation for your injuries.