Traffic deaths continue to rise in U.S., but don’t blame texting

Traffic fatalities in the U.S. rose for the second-straight year in 2016 despite a dip in crash deaths linked to distracted driving, according to data released by federal highway safety regulators. Some 37,461 people died in vehicle collisions in 2016, the highest annual tally since 2007, according to NHTSA figures. The 5.6% rise in traffic deaths last year came after a 8.4% spike in 2015, which was the largest annual increase since the mid-1960’s. Drunk driving blamed for the most deaths Fatalities from distracted drivers, such as those texting, fell 2.2% last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported Friday. Deaths linked to other risky behaviors such as speeding, drunk driving and not wearing seat belts contributed to an overall gain in fatalities, the agency said. Drunk driving was blamed for the most deaths. The agency “continues to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives every year,” it said in a statement. They “may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that drivers make behind the wheel.” Miles driven Another increase in the number of miles driven by American motorists last year helps explain some but not all of the rise in crash deaths. Total vehicle-miles-traveled increased 2.2% last year while the fatality rate grew 2.6% to 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, according to the agency. Miles driven gained 2.3% in 2015. Regulators have sounded the alarm about the rising safety risks on the roads and highways, which comes after a downward trend for the last decade. The gains have also fueled interest on Capitol Hill in self-driving vehicles as a way to curb deadly crashes, with lawmakers advancing legislation to speed autonomous vehicle deployment. Pedestrian, motorcyclist & bicyclist deaths rose NHTSA also found that pedestrian, motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths also rose in 2016. Non-vehicle occupants accounted for nearly a third of all crash fatalities last year, up from roughly one-in-four traffic deaths in 2007. Insurance industry impact Vehicle crashes are also hitting the insurance industry. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest provider of car coverage in the U.S., posted an underwriting loss of $7 billion on the business last year, burned by higher-than-expected claims costs. Rivals, including Allstate Corp., Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and the Geico unit at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., have been pressured by rising costs on auto policies as smartphones distract drivers and repair costs climb.


About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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