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2015: The most dangerous year ever for auto accidents?

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That’s an early prediction of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2015.  It’s based on traffic fatality reports at mid-year.  And it’s bad news for every driver, law enforcement agency and the general public.

It may take until the end of 2016 for official 2015 death statistics from every sector of the country to be tabulated, but the preliminary numbers for 2015 are startling.  An estimated 7,500 people lost their lives in auto accidents during the first three months of 2015.  That’s nearly a 10 percent increase in deaths according to NHTSA, compared to the first quarter of 2014, when 6,850 people lost their lives in auto accidents.

As yet, NHTSA is not providing reasons for the terrible uptick in fatal auto crashes.  But it is clear at this juncture that by the end of the year the statistics from states will be grim.

A Bankrate study, ranking the best and worst commutes in each of the 50 states, puts Texas, Louisiana and California at the bottom of the list with the worst statistics.  The study is being touted by CNBC.com and a number of other websites that cover cost-of-living indices for residents all across the U.S.  Fatality rates are included since the number of deaths due to auto accidents affects the cost of commuting.  According to the Bankrate study, Texas has one of the highest fatality rates in the United States.

What’s driving the increase in accidents that has attracted the attention of NHTSA and Bankrate?  An August 2015 article in Police Chief Magazine says a “storm” of speeding is the cause.

The article cites all the reasons for the decline in auto accidents in recent years – stricter DWI and seat belt laws, more safety features built into vehicles including air bags, ABS brakes and automatic stability control systems.  But that decline, coupled with new safety features on cars, has led many drivers today to believe that speeding is okay.

The economic cost of speed-related crashes amounts to $40 billion a year, according to NHTSA.  Today cars accelerate more quickly, the ride is quieter and smoother and they run easily at higher speeds “giving drivers the impression that they are in a safety bubble where they rule the road.”  The Police Chief article also cites other reasons that make speeding accidents more likely, but it says those are just contributing factors, not the main reason for the increasing death rate.  No doubt, it’s speed.

The lawyers at Wayne Wright who represent victims of these accidents are exceedingly aware of all the factors that contribute to these injuries and deaths.  As such, they stand ready to secure compensation for those who have been victimized by an attitude among other drivers that they rule the road and can drive at any speed they choose no matter the posted speed limit.

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