Despite a decline in traffic fatalities, more work still needs to be done.
Traffic fatalities in the United States declined for the fifth consecutive quarter. In 2023, approximately 19,515 people lost their lives in car accidents, marking a 3.3% decrease compared to the 20,190 traffic deaths recorded during the first half of 2022. This positive trend was announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in their estimates for the first half of the year.
This is encouraging news, at least for drivers in 29 states. That includes Maine, which saw a 46.6% decrease in road deaths. The remaining 21 states, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, saw projected increases in traffic deaths. The preliminary data also indicated that there were fewer traffic deaths despite an increase in the number of miles driven.
How are officials reacting to the preliminary data on traffic deaths?
Despite this positive trend, experts stress that the nation must remain vigilant and continue to address the ongoing road safety crisis to ensure further improvements and reduced fatalities.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasized that, although the numbers are heading in the right direction, there remains much work to be done.
Buttigieg stated, "Safety has always been the core mission of this Department, and thanks to President Biden, we are delivering unprecedented resources to communities across the country to make their streets safer."
To address traffic safety comprehensively, the NHTSA is implementing a range of initiatives. These include:
- New rulemakings that mandate lifesaving vehicle technologies such as automatic emergency braking systems.
- Additional funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for state highway safety offices.
- Data collection efforts concerning crashes involving automated driving systems.
- The Call to Action campaign that aligns with the National Roadway Safety Strategy's Vision Zero approach.
What are the leading causes of traffic deaths?
According to the NHTSA, the leading causes of traffic fatalities in the U.S. include:
- Drunk driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol reduces reaction times and impairs judgment. In 2021, it caused 13,384 fatalities, making it the leading cause of traffic deaths.
- Speeding: Excessive speed is a significant contributor to traffic fatalities. It reduces a driver's ability to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions and increases the severity of crashes. It resulted in 12,330 traffic fatalities in 2021.
- Distracted driving: Distracted drivers are less likely to notice and respond to potential hazards. This type of behavior caused 3,522 traffic fatalities in 2021.
- Drowsy driving: Drowsy driving impairs a driver's alertness and decision-making. It has resulted in 684 road deaths in 2021.
The most common contributors to fatal crashes in the U.S. include lack of seatbelt use and dangerous weather conditions. Poor roadway infrastructure is also a leading contributor, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists. This typically includes a lack of crosswalks, poor signage, and unregulated intersections.
What are my legal rights after losing a loved one in a crash?
If you lost a loved one in a crash in Maine, you can pursue damages through a wrongful death claim. You must be a surviving spouse, child, parent, or adult sibling of the deceased person. Additionally, you must file within two years of the deceased person's death.
A successful wrongful death claim may provide compensation to eligible family members for various types of damages, including but not limited to:
- Funeral and burial expenses: Coverage for the costs associated with the funeral and burial services.
- Medical expenses: Compensation for the medical bills incurred as a result of the accident and the medical care provided prior to the loved one's passing.
- Loss of financial support: Damages to address the economic support that the deceased would have provided to the family if they had survived.
- Loss of companionship: Compensation for the emotional suffering, grief, and loss of companionship experienced by surviving family members.
- Pain and suffering: In cases where applicable, damages for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased person before their passing.
Contact a car accident lawyer to review your legal options
While you're mourning the loss of your loved one, you may not want to navigate a complex wrongful death claim or lawsuit. That's where the Maine car accident attorneys at Jabar LaLiberty, LLC come in. We're committed to obtaining justice for injured motorists and their families across Maine. To find out how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us for a free consultation. Our law offices are located in Portland and Waterville, Maine.