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Fatal car accidents increased last year

Car accidents continue to cause serious injuries and fatalities in Massachusetts and throughout the U.S. Despite an increase in awareness campaigns on distracted driving and other dangerous driving behaviors, fatal car accidents increased by five percent last year, with 36,200 total deaths being reported.

2012 was the first year fatal car accidents increased in the last seven years, leaving safety experts to wonder why traffic fatalities increased and what safety measures can be done to reduce car accidents in the future.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported on the main contributing factor in fatal car accidents last year. The report found that 30 percent of fatal accidents were not caused by any dangerous driving behaviors. Fatal collisions that were caused by unsafe or illegal behaviors included 21 percent being caused by speeding, 16 percent caused by running off the road or improper lane changes and almost 16 percent were caused by drivers under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication.

In addition to fatal car accidents increasing in 2012, car accidents that resulted in serious medical injuries that required medical treatment increased by five percent from 2011, according to the National Safety Council.

The National Safety Council and Transportation Department are hoping that they can develop new safety devices and measures that can help prevent serious injuries and fatalities caused by car accidents. One of the ways the Transportation Department is looking at increasing vehicle safety is by adding a new vehicle safety rating, the "silver car" rating that we discussed in last week's post.

In addition to enhancing vehicle safety ratings, safety advocates are hoping to raise more awareness to one of the most dangerous behaviors behind the wheel: distracted driving. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and safety advocates are trying to educate drivers about the dangers of texting behind the wheel, along with other risky behaviors like changing music, navigating a GPS device or even talking to other passengers in the vehicle.

Source: Pentagon Post, "Vehicle Accident Death Rate Rises In US," Gary Watts, April 6, 2013

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