The latest annual crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are available.
From a national standpoint, 2019 looks slightly better than 2018, with a slight drop in traffic fatalities. The overall number of car accidents has increased from 6.74 million to 6.76 million. Additionally, there were about 30,000 more crash-related injuries in 2019 than there were in 2018. A minor drop in traffic fatalities sounds like a step in the right direction, but some states have actually seen the opposite.
Maine, for example, saw a 15.4 percent increase in traffic fatalities from 2018 to 2019. Here are the figures for that period:
- 136 fatalities in 2018 and 157 in 2019
- 39 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2018 and 50 in 2019 (28.2 percent increase)
- 42 speed-related traffic fatalities in 2018 and 49 in 2019 (16.6 percent increase)
- 23 motorcyclist deaths in 2018 and 27 in 2019 (17.3 percent increase)
- 6 pedestrian deaths in 2018 and 16 in 2019 (166.6 percent increase)
- 2 bicyclist deaths in 2018 and 2 in 2019 (no change)
Traffic fatalities jump in 2020
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been fewer cars on the road. Many people are either out of work or working from home. In addition, many recreational events were canceled or have gone remote. What we've learned from 2020 is that having fewer cars on the road doesn't necessarily mean safer roads. In April of 2020, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported a staggering increase in speeding drivers, some of which have been clocked at speeds greater than 100 mph. According to the GHSA, the reduction in traffic congestion has given drivers the opportunity to exceed the posted speed limit. When the lockdowns eased up during the summer months, more people began traveling again and sharing the road with reckless drivers.
Now fast forward to the end of 2020. The U.S. has seen a significant increase in traffic fatalities, according to preliminary data released by the NHTSA. For example, during the third quarter of 2020, there were 11,260 traffic fatalities. That's 13.1 percent more people killed on U.S. roads from the same period in 2019. What's even more shocking about this is, there was a 14.5 percent decrease in total vehicle miles traveled during the first nine months in 2020.
The NHTSA blames this staggering increase in traffic fatalities on risky driving behavior.
“Drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” the NHTSA said in an open letter to drivers.
What to do if you were injured in a crash
No matter how much caution we use when driving, we can't control the actions of other drivers. Nor can we always avoid encountering reckless drivers. Each day, we hear about someone's life being turned upside down because of a distracted driver, drunk driver or speeder. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash, it's important that you know your rights.
Maine is a tort or "at-fault" car insurance state. That means you must pursue damages from the at-fault driver's insurance company. It's easy for the insurance companies to shift the blame when there is little evidence to prove who was at fault. That's why you need a strong legal advocate on your side who can launch a thorough investigation into your crash and fight for a fair settlement on your behalf. An experienced Maine car accident lawyer at Jabar LaLiberty & Dubord, LLC can help you recover:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Assistance with daily tasks while you recover
- In-home modifications to accommodate your injury
What if I lost a loved one in a crash?
If you lost a loved one in a crash, you may be eligible for a wrongful death claim. You must be an immediate surviving family member of the deceased person and you must file within two years from the date of your loved one's death. The sooner you file, the better. Evidence can disappear quickly. Our attorneys can help you recover damages pertaining to:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical costs relating to the deceased person
- Lost future earning potential or compensation the deceased person would have gained if they were alive
- Pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional trauma endured by the deceased person's family
- Loss of guidance, companionship, support, protection and care
Our law firm will work tirelessly for the best possible outcome of your case and we won't settle for anything less than the compensation you deserve. To get started, simply fill out our online contact form or call our Waterville or Portland law offices.