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Deadly Pennsylvania car crashes show marked rise in first half of 2015

A new report shows that in Pennsylvania and 35 other states, deadly auto accidents increased significantly between the first six months of 2014 and 2015.

Over the last few decades, advances in safety technology and driver awareness have helped reduce the number of car crashes and associated deaths. Troublingly, though, new data from the National Safety Council shows that public roads may be turning into a more dangerous place for motorists. According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents recorded in the first six months of the year, increased from 2014 to 2015, both in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

Troubling accident trends

Altogether, 36 states reported a greater number of deadly accidents during the time periods that the NSC reviewed. Nationally, the number of fatal crashes increased 14 percent, and the estimated number of injury crashes rose 30 percent. Here in Pennsylvania, deadly accidents increased 7 percent, with 552 lives lost just during the first half of 2015. If this pace continues, the number of national traffic fatalities that occur this year may reach the highest level since 2007.

Explaining the increase

Experts caution that it is too early to decide whether this increase in accidents is statistically significant, since the accident rate may taper off during the coming months. Similarly, identifying a reason for the uptick in serious car crashes is difficult at this point, although the NSC identifies the following potential contributing factors:

  • More people driving. As the economy rebounds, lower gas prices and higher employment rates may encourage more people to drive. From February 2014 to May 2015, the number of Americans driving rose steadily.
  • Higher speed limits. Many states, including Pennsylvania, have legalized higher speed limits in the last few years. These changes may raise the risk of accidents and increase the likelihood of those accidents being deadly.
  • More distracted driving. According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, three out of four Americans own smart phones today, compared to one in four in 2010. This may promote more distracted driving.

Driver inattention may be an important contributor to the rising number of accidents in Pennsylvania. According to The Pennsylvania Tribune, local law enforcement authorities report seeing more drivers who are distracted by technology. From 2012 to 2014, the number of citations that authorities issued for texting while driving and using headphones while driving both increased. Unfortunately, since these citations only result in fines, many drivers may persist in these risky habits.

Remedies for victims

Sadly, if the first half of 2015 is any indicator, car accidents may claim the lives of hundreds of Pennsylvanians during the remainder of the year. Additionally, if factors such as distracted driving, speed limit increases and economic improvements are behind the rise in catastrophic crashes, these accidents may continue to occur at high rates in the future.

Since there is little that drivers can do to reduce their risk of experiencing these accidents, they should make sure to protect their rights afterward. Anyone who has been hurt or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident should consider speaking to an attorney about seeking recourse.