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Number of fatal accidents on U.S. roadways jumps

Anytime a person travels in an automobile they run some risk that they will be involved in an accident. Whether or not they fully appreciate that risk is an entirely different story. However, the data for traffic accidents from 2015 should be a wake-up call to all drivers that safety must be their highest priority when operating a motor vehicle.

According to the final numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2015 was a bad year for car accidents and other motor vehicle crashes. Over the course of last year, more than 35,000 people died in accidents on the nation's roadways. This marked a 7.2 percent increase from the number of traffic fatalities in 2014, the highest percentage jump in almost 50 years. The percentage increase for fatal accidents involving occupants of cars was slightly better than that for all motor vehicle deaths, but it was still a 5.7 percent jump year-over-year.

The number of injuries from traffic accidents also increased. In 2015, 2.44 million people suffered injuries from crashes, up from 2.34 million injured people in 2014.

Vehicles are becoming safer, and NHTSA data shows that the overall trend is that automobile travel is becoming less deadly. For example, in 2006, the number of people that died from traffic accidents was 42,708. But, government officials and traffic safety groups will undoubtedly mobilize their resources to figure out why 2015 bucked this long-term trend.

Understanding why traffic accidents occur can help auto manufacturers build safer vehicles, and it can also lead to new traffic safety laws. At the same time, another effective tool for making the roads safer is for every driver to take responsibility and do their part to keep the roads safe. People in Charleston should do what they can to avoid distracted driving and dangerous habits like texting and driving.

Regardless of why the number of traffic injuries and fatalities increased so much in 2015, increased awareness, combined with action, can make the coming years safer. In the meantime, those who have been harmed in a car crash should carefully consider their legal options, as compensation may be available for their damages.

Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "2015 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview," Accessed on Sept. 2, 2016

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