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NHTSA report reveals surge in accident deaths

Much has been written in recent years about improvements in auto safety systems and the effectiveness of initiatives designed to curb drunk driving, but an August report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that the roads in Pennsylvania and other U.S. states are actually getting more dangerous. The report reveals that more than 35,000 Americans lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2015, which represents a 7.2 increase over the number of road users killed in 2014.

The NHTSA report puts the blame for the increase in traffic accident deaths largely down to improving economic conditions, reduced rates of unemployment and lower fuel prices. These factors combined to spur the biggest increase in vehicle miles driven in almost a quarter century according to the federal road safety agency.

The report also reveals that reckless behavior remains a serious problem for law enforcement agencies around the country. Nearly half of those killed in car accidents in 2015 were not restrained by a seat belt, and almost a third of fatal crashes involved an intoxicated or speeding driver. Cellphone use or other driver distractions were a contributory factor in approximately 10 percent of traffic fatalities.

Reckless drivers may face civil sanctions as well as criminal charges when they cause serious accidents, but police reports do not always provide personal injury attorneys with the evidence they need to establish liability in lawsuits brought on behalf of accident victims. In this type of situation, attorneys may revisit the crash scene to look for security cameras that may have captured the events as they unfolded or individuals who could have seen the accident but were not interviewed by police. Other sources of evidence may include the cellphone records of the drivers involved and the data recording devices that most modern vehicles are equipped with.

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