Colorado and the U.S. see worrying rise in traffic fatalities

Traffic fatalities in Colorado and throughout the nation are rising. This article looks at why.

Traffic fatalities are on the upswing both in Colorado and throughout the United States. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, fatal motor vehicle accidents rose by nine percent across the nation during the first half of 2016. That surge in fatalities follows a similar increase seen in Colorado last year. Traffic fatalities are believed to be increasing due to a number of different factors, such as an improving economy, low gas prices, and distracted driving.

Traffic fatalities

The National Safety Council says that during the first six months of 2016 there were about 19,100 road deaths in the U.S. That is a nine percent increase from the same period last year and a staggering 18 percent increase from the first half of 2014. Additionally, the first half of this year also witnessed 2.2 million serious injuries due to road accidents. At this rate, the final number of fatalities for this year could exceed 40,000, making 2016 one of the deadliest years on the road within the past decade.

Figures out of Colorado itself also paint a grim picture. Last year, according to Colorado Public Radio, traffic fatalities in the state rose by 10 percent, reversing what had been a long-term downward trend. Last year also saw 104 motorcycle fatalities in Colorado, the highest number of such deaths on record.

Various causes

When it comes to what is causing this increase in fatalities, plenty of explanations have been offered. A big factor is undoubtedly the economic recovery. During times of economic hardship, people tend to drive less, as was the case during the Great Recession. As the economy has improved - and as gas prices have gone down - people are finding themselves in better financial shape and thus better able to drive more often. That increase in traffic means that accidents overall are also increasing.

However, the increase is not entirely due to factors beyond the control of most drivers. For example, the Colorado Department of Transportation notes that while only 15 percent of drivers in the state do not wear a seatbelt, half of all traffic fatalities involved that same group of people. Distracted driving has also been cited as another reason for the increase in traffic deaths, especially as smartphones and in-car infotainment systems offer even more distractions while on the road. Increasing seatbelt usage and cutting down on distracted driving would both help reduce the number of deaths on the road.

Personal injury

A motor vehicle accident can lead to both short- and long-term injury and damage. The costs associated with an accident can also be extremely high and may include items such as hospital bills, therapy, vehicle repair, and lost income. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims fight for whatever financial compensation they may be entitled to, including by helping them navigate the often complicated claims process and by dealing directly with insurance adjustors on their behalf.