Pedestrian and overall traffic fatalities reach near-decade highs

As traffic deaths soar across the United States, pedestrian deaths are rising especially quickly.

Traffic fatalities across the country are soaring. According to the New York Times, fatal motor vehicle accidents have increased dramatically for the second year in a row, making 2016 the deadliest year on America's roads and highways in nearly a decade. The sharp increase in road deaths is partly being blamed on the recovering economy, but given that those deaths are outpacing the number of miles being traveled, most safety experts suspect distracted driving is one of the main reasons for the spike. Pedestrian deaths have gone up especially quickly, far faster than other types of traffic fatalities.

Traffic fatalities are soaring nationwide

According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths in 2016 were likely around 40,200. That is the highest figure since 2007 when 41,000 people were killed on the nation's roads and highways. It is also the second year in a row when traffic fatalities have jumped nationwide. Last year's rise of six percent combined with the seven percent rise the year before means in the last two years traffic deaths have increased by an alarming 14 percent. That's the fastest such increase in more than half a century.

Pedestrian deaths have been rising especially quickly. As CBS News reports, the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates that close to 6,000 pedestrians were killed last year, which is an 11 percent spike from the year before. Pedestrian fatalities now account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities, up from 11 percent in 2006.

Drivers are more distracted than ever before

Undoubtedly some of the increase in traffic fatalities is because there are simply more cars on the road than there were a decade ago. That's because the economy is improving, allowing motorists to drive more often and for longer. However, because traffic deaths are outpacing the number of miles traveled, most safety experts suspect that increased traffic alone cannot explain the spike in fatalities.

Instead, most of those safety experts point to distracted driving as the main culprit behind the increase in deaths. While distracted driving deaths are notoriously difficult to measure since drivers are often unwilling to admit they were distracted before an accident, they are certainly increasing. Smart phones have made distracted driving ubiquitous and a number of studies show that distracted driving can be just as dangerous as driving while impaired. Furthermore, supposedly "safer" hands-free devices have also been shown to be just as distracting as physically holding a smartphone.

Representation for accident victims

As the roads become more dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians, it is important for anybody who has been hurt in an accident to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney for help. An attorney can represent clients as they pursue whatever financial claims they may be entitled to, especially in cases where the accident may have been the result of another driver's carelessness or recklessness.