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Sobering numbers reinforce the need for improving highway safety

From statistics compiled nationally to those collected by state agencies, an accurate and often disturbing picture develops of highway fatalities and how they come about. The numbers are recorded each year, and we can see certain trends.

The latest statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, reveal that in 2015, 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Closer to home, Ohio law enforcement agencies provide vehicle crash statistics from every county, and the results show some surprising information about the reasons for highway fatalities in our state as compared to those that occurred nationwide.

A mixed picture in traffic deaths

The population in America has been growing steadily since 1975, yet the rate of fatalities per 100,000 people due to vehicle crashes is roughly half of what it was 40 years ago. However, in 2015, there was an increase of six percent in the death rate for passenger car occupants over the 2014 rate. Most of the victims were males aged 20 to 24 and those aged 85 and older. In Ohio, there were 302,307 vehicle crashes in 2015 and 1,100 fatalities. In looking at the overall picture, the National Safety Council believes that the six percent spike may have been due to lower gas prices and an improving economy. More people were employed and driving to and from jobs. Many of those who went on vacation took to the roads. An increase in fatalities and serious injuries was a natural result of more people driving in every state.

The main causes of crash fatalities

The 2015 Ohio statistics mirrored the national data, which showed that the main causes of crash fatalities were alcohol impairment, speeding and lack of safety belt use. Speeding, in fact, has been a major factor in traffic deaths since 2005. Interestingly, the Department of Transportation figures indicate that the number of fatalities involving speeding was higher on minor roads than on freeways and interstates.

The collaborative effort to improve highway safety

The statistics gathered from around the state are included in an annual report that helps the Ohio Department of Public Safety, law enforcement and other state agencies in the effort to improve highway safety. The 2015 Ohio Traffic Crash Facts Book includes not only the numbers relative to crash fatalities, but the driving behaviors and circumstances that led to these deaths.

Turning to legal expertise

Fortunately, many people survive horrible car crashes, although some will have to come to terms with any fatalities that might have been involved and deal with the impact the accident had on their own life. If you should suffer an injury due to a vehicle crash, your first priority is to get the best medical care possible. Your next step should be to contact an attorney experienced with personal injury cases.