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Reasons Massachusetts is seeing an increase in fatal car crashes

A study of 2016 car crash statistics in Massachusetts has revealed that the state is seeing a significant rise in motor vehicle accidents, which has translated into an increase in vehicle-related fatalities. Overall, the state has seen a 20 percent rise in motor vehicle accident deaths in 2016 compared to 2015.

Statistics show that in the first six months of 2016, 179 vehicle-related deaths occurred in Massachusetts, and for the first time in many years, motor vehicle fatality statics appear to be getting worse rather than improving. Nationally, if the increase in vehicle deaths continues, death totals in the United States could exceed 40,000 in 2016, which would be the first time in 10 years that death statistics were so high.

Here are the two most important factors contributing to this increase:

Cheaper gas means more drivers and more accidents

Part of the reason for the increase may relate to a 3.3 percent rise in drivers on our state's roadways. Cheaper gas prices have made it possible for more people to spend more time driving. Historically, the rise and fall of roadway fatalities has been tied closely to changes in gas prices, so it is expected that the current decrease in gas prices would result in a similar increase in car crash statistics. However, it doesn't account for the entire increase.

Smartphones represent dangerously fatal distractions

According to the president of AAA, another, perhaps more important, reason for the increase in roadway fatalities is distracted driving. Numerous drivers are illegally listening to their personal electronic devices, like iPods, and numerous drivers are illegally texting and driving, using social media or being distracted by other things modern devices.

It is extremely important to recognize that 10 years ago most drivers did not have smartphones to distract them. However, these days it is rare for someone to not have some kind of electronic device that he or she is constantly using and being distracted by, and this is increasing the risks and dangers of distracted driving. According to experts, the simple act of putting one's cellphone out of reach and waiting to respond to a text can save lives.

Having a lively conversation with a passenger, eating, or adjusting the radio are important distractions drivers need to be careful of, but if we are looking to identify the worst culprit for the increase in car accidents and fatalities, it is easy to look around while driving and see all the drivers on their smartphones. Then, the reason is clear. Attentiveness and alertness are crucial to avoiding car accidents and using a smartphone while driving is the antithesis of that.

Injured parties can hold distracted drivers accountable in court

Since texting while driving and other smartphone distractions are illegal in Massachusetts, drivers and passengers hurt by this behavior can seek financial restitution in court by filing a personal injury claim. Furthermore, if there is probable cause to request such information, those injured by texting and driving will have the power to subpoena cellphone log information relating to texting activity and use this information as evidence to s upport their claims.

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