Traffic accident fatalities in North Carolina during the first six months of 2015 were 19 percent higher than during the same period in 2014 according to a report released by the National Safety Council. The nonprofit group studied federal accident data to compare the first six months of 2015 with the first six months of 2014, and it concluded that improving economic conditions and an increase in reckless behavior contributed to a 14 percent increase in fatalities and a 30 percent increase in serious injuries across the country.
Improving economic conditions around the country and plummeting gas prices were cited by the NSC as the main drivers of the increased number of traffic accident injuries and fatalities, but the nonprofit organization said that negligent behavior also played a significant role. The increasing number of motorists who use cellphones while behind the wheel to send or read text messages was singled out as a particularly disturbing trend. About 70 percent of those responding to an AT&T survey admitted to using electronic devices while driving, and NSC researchers determined that the practice makes accidents eight times more likely to occur.
Accident rates go up during periods of economic prosperity because vacations are more common and commuting increases when more people have jobs. A 30 percent drop in the price of gas during the first six months of 2015 led to even more traffic on the nation’s roads. The surge in accident fatalities comes after several years of declining injuries and deaths. Road deaths fell by more than 4,000 per year between 2008 and 2014 during the financial crisis and subsequent recession.
Establishing that a motorist acted recklessly is sometimes a challenge for personal injury attorneys pursuing civil remedies on behalf of accident victims. While police reports could contain details of a driver’s impairment or fatigue, attorneys may have to conduct their own investigations to establish distraction. These efforts could include analyzing the cellphone records of the individuals involved or examining the vehicles that they were driving to rule out the possibility of mechanical failure.