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Traffic deaths increased in 2016

Illinois motorists may be concerned to learn that U.S. car accident fatalities rose in 2016, according to new numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the second straight year that traffic deaths have increased.

The NHTSA reports that 37,461 people died in 2016, which represents a 5.6 increase over 2015. The top causes of fatal accidents were speeding, failure to wear seat belts and motorcycle crashes. There was a 4 percent increase in speeding-related fatalities and a 4.6 percent jump in deaths of passengers who failed to wear seat belts. Meanwhile, motorcycle fatalities increased 5.1. percent, pedestrian deaths spiked 9 percent and drunk driving deaths jumped 1.7 percent. However, distracted driving deaths declined by 2.2 percent last year.

The increase in deaths is particularly troubling because fatalities decreased in six of the seven years between 2007 and 2014. Traffic fatalities hit an all-time low of 32,744 in 2014. The increase in deaths also comes at a time when vehicle safety technology is at an all-time high. According to the NHTSA, the majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by human error.

After most serious accidents, police investigators study the crash scene to determine the cause of the collision. Injured victims could use the results of that investigation as the basis for a personal injury lawsuit filed against the driver who was responsible for the crash. If the complaint is successful in court, it could lead to a financial settlement that pays for a victim's medical expenses, lost wages and other related damages.

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