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Car accident fatalities decreasing

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The risk of a car accident never goes away, whether drivers in Virginia remain aware of it or not. However, the good news according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is that fatalities resulting from car accidents are finally decreasing. The 1.8 percent drop follows two consecutive years of spikes in the number of fatal crashes. While a decrease certainly gives reason for celebration, it nonetheless helps to obscure the fact that 37,133 people died on U.S. motorways in 2017.

The NHTSA identifies the main causes of these accidents as driving under the influence, speeding and distracted driving. Drug-impaired driving was also named as an emerging issue that will need to be addressed if the downward trend is to be maintained.

In fact, this year, many news agencies across the United States, including CNN, reported a sharp spike in car accidents in states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The reports were the results of two studies which showed an increase of 6 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. It is important to note, however, that according to the studies, these car accidents have not increased the number of road fatalities.

The findings from these and other related studies contradict a long-standing belief among many recreational users of marijuana that the drug does not cause impairment while driving. To further dispute this, a simulation study using a small sample of drivers showed that after using marijuana, drivers failed to maintain proper control of their vehicle. Weaving was the specific problematic driving behavior that was identified.

Thus, though road fatalities are on the decline, there is still a lot of work to be done. To this end, many states and cities across the country are launching campaigns and passing laws to eliminate distracted and impaired driving, as well as encouraging drivers and their passengers to buckle up. Hopefully, when the car accidents and road fatality reports are published for 2018, the records will show that these efforts have paid off.

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