Georgia traffic fatalities are on pace to increase for the first time in several years. Driver distraction may be one factor behind this alarming trend.
As most people in Alpharetta know, over the last few decades, vehicle safety technology has improved and traffic laws have become stricter. This may help explain the general decline in traffic fatalities that occurred over the same period. Unfortunately, though, recent data shows that deadly car accidents are now on the rise in Georgia. According to WJCL News, unless current accident trends change, the city will record its first increase in traffic fatalities in nine years.
A deadly year
The same source reports that, as of Oct. 20, there have been 1,070 reported traffic fatalities in 2015. According to WSAV News, officials expect the state to experience over 1,200 fatalities by the end of the year. Sadly, the available data suggests that many of these accidents may involve preventable factors rather than uncontrollable circumstances.
Common accident causes
Driver distraction appears to be playing a significant role in the increase in serious accidents. According to authorities, close to 75 percent of the fatal accidents that have happened this year involved driver distraction. While some of these distracted driving accidents were single-car collisions, many involved other vehicles.
Seat belt usage may also play a role in the rise in deadly accidents. WJCL News states that 61 percent of the people who have lost their lives in fatal Georgia crashes this year were not wearing seatbelts. This finding suggests that drivers can reduce their risk of catastrophic outcomes by wearing seatbelts. Unfortunately, though, this may only offer limited protection against other drivers who are distracted or otherwise acting negligently.
Similar national trends
The rise in deadly Georgia accidents mirrors a national pattern of increasing traffic fatalities. According to Newsweek, the National Safety Council has reported the following facts regarding serious or deadly traffic crashes in 2015:
- The number of people who were severely injured in auto accidents between January and June of this year was 30 percent higher than the number injured last year. Overall, 2.3 million serious injuries were reported.
- The number of accident fatalities that occurred during the same time period increased 14 percent, with nearly 19,000 lives lost.
- If this pattern continues, the country as a whole will suffer more traffic fatalities than it has in any year since 2007.
A few unavoidable factors, such as the improving economy and decreases in unemployment, may be driving this increase in accidents. However, the NSC suggests that other factors, such as alcohol use, speeding and driver distraction, may also be partly responsible for this troubling trend.
Driver distraction in particular represents a growing problem. According to NBC News, the NSC has estimated that drivers talking on cell phones caused over 1.2 million crashes that occurred in 2013, or one-fifth of all crashes that year. The same source estimates that with texting and driving factored in, cell phone use contributed to anywhere from 27 to 37 percent of all crashes in 2014. The statistics from Georgia suggest that distracted driving has become even more critical of a problem here.
Legal remedies may be available
If the first part of 2015 is any indicator, catastrophic accidents will likely affect many people in Georgia this year. Sadly, many of these accidents may involve unnecessary negligence on the part of other drivers. After securing any necessary medical attention, victims of these accidents or their family members may benefit from consulting with an attorney about seeking recourse for their losses.