Why are Virginia and U.S. traffic fatalities spiking this year?
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Traffic fatalities are on the rise both in Virginia and the across the country due to a number of factors.
This year may prove to be the deadliest on both Virginia’s and the nation’s roads and highways since 2007, according to Newsplex. The rate of fatal traffic accidents has risen dramatically so far in 2015 and is causing alarm both among safety experts and law enforcement. The reason for the rapid rise is partly being blamed on distracted driving, but other causes, such as lower unemployment and cheaper gas, may also be helping make highways more crowded and, therefore, more dangerous.
During all of 2014, Virginia witnessed 700 traffic fatalities, yet as of August 19 of this year, the Commonwealth has already seen 430 such fatalities. Those disturbing figures are in keeping with a larger national trend. The National Safety Council, for example, says that traffic deaths in 2015 are on track to being 14 percent higher than they were in 2014, with over 18,600 people dying in accidents during the first six months of this year.
According to CBS News, one of the surprising reasons for the increase is likely the improving economy. As employment climbs, more people are feeling financially secure enough to rely on their vehicles more often and to take long summer road trips. Furthermore, the decrease in the price of gas has made it much cheaper to drive, thus leading to greater congestion on the road.
Not all of the blame, however, comes down to cheap gas and a better economy. Distractions are also suspected of playing a growing role in the number of car accidents both in Virginia and across the country. Not surprisingly, smartphones are a perennial concern for law enforcement agencies, with talking or texting on phones being a leading cause of distracted driving accidents.
However, safety experts are quick to point out that distracted driving is not limited to using a cellphone when behind the wheel. Other activities while driving, such as changing the radio, personal grooming, eating or engaging with hands-free devices, can be just as distracting as cellphones. Furthermore, having other passengers in the car tends to be especially dangerous for young and novice drivers, who are much more likely to be in a distracted driving accident than more experienced motorists.
Distracted driving is, quite simply, dangerous driving. Motorists who take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds not only endanger their own lives, but the lives of everybody else on the road. Such negligence can and often does lead to horrific accidents.
Anybody who has been the victim of an accident caused by a possibly distracted driver should contact a personal injury attorney right away. The compensation that may be available to such accident victims could prove highly useful for those who are coping with and trying to move beyond the fallout from their ordeal.