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Deaths from motor vehicles increase for first time in a decade

For nearly a decade, it looked like the number of motor vehicle-related deaths in the United States was decreasing and would steadily continue. That isn't bearing out.

The fatalities resulting from serious car crashes have climbed to their highest numbers in some nine years. That means that in 2016, approximately 37,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents—a dramatic 5.6 percent increase from the year before. That's according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The main reasons given by NHTSA for this disturbing trend include speeding, not wearing seat belts, drunk driving and an increase in motorcycle and pedestrian accidents. The deaths resulting from speeding, unbelted passengers and motorcycle accidents rose 4-5 percent. The most dramatic increase came from pedestrian deaths, which saw a 9 percent jump from 2015.

With the popularity of cellphones and electronic devices, it would be natural to think that distracted driving had increased as well. However, NHTSA says deaths from distracted driving actually went down by 2.2 percent in 2016.

The increase in fatalities comes even despite added vehicle safety features and advancements in self-driving cars. The safety technology found in motor vehicles is more sophisticated than ever, but it isn’t able to counter driver-related error. It is estimated that 94 percent of serious crashes are the result of human mistakes.

Proponents of fully autonomous vehicles tout the expectation that taking the human factor out of the equation will lead to fewer accidents injuries and deaths, but that time is not here yet. If you are hurt in a crash, you have the right to seek compensation from those responsible. Consulting an experienced attorney is the way to ensure you know all your legal options.

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