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More driving not enough to explain fatality rate

Last year, many Pennsylvania motorists drove more thanks to cheaper gasoline prices and job growth. However, the National Safety Council says that the increase in vehicle miles traveled last year cannot fully explain why there were so many car accident deaths. While vehicle miles traveled increased by 3 percent in 2016 over the previous year, car accident fatalities increased by 6 percent.

On Feb. 15, the National Safety Council released statistics showing that there were 40,200 motor vehicle accident deaths in 2016. Last year was the first time since 2007 that annual car accident deaths have exceeded 40,000. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported similar findings in January when it showed that fatal accidents had risen by 8 percent in the first nine months of 2016 over the comparable period in the prior year.

In addition to the fatal car accident statistics, the National Safety Council released a survey about driving habits. According to the survey, 47 percent of drivers admit that they are comfortable texting behind the wheel. Ten percent of drivers say that they have driven drunk, and 25 percent of drivers say that they feel comfortable speeding in residential areas. The National Safety Council is advocating for a complete ban of all mobile phone use by drivers.

Drivers who are distracted by their smartphones sometimes cause car accidents that injure others. When drivers cause these kinds of accidents, they could be held financially responsible for the victims' physical injuries and property damage. People who have been harmed in such a manner might want to have legal assistance when seeking appropriate compensation.

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