The beginning of the New Year has given traffic safety experts the opportunity to take stock of road safety in Ohio over the past year. Unfortunately, the news is not good. According to the Columbus Dispatch, traffic fatalities rose in Ohio in 2015 for the second year in a row, after reaching a record low in 2013. While the news is disappointing, it is part of a trend that is being repeated nationwide. As gas prices decrease, congestion increases, and distracted driving becomes more ubiquitous, the chances for accidents to occur are rising.
Ohio traffic deaths in 2015
Figures released by the State Highway Patrol show that there were at least 1,057 people killed in traffic accidents in Ohio last year, with a further 42 deaths still under review that have not yet been confirmed as traffic fatalities. By comparison, in 2014 there 1,008 fatalities and in 2013 there were 990. Because the 2015 figures do not include New Year’s Eve fatalities, they could still increase further.
Traffic fatalities that involved pedestrians, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles all increased last year and police note that vehicle occupants were not wearing seatbelts in about two-thirds of overall fatal accidents. Drug and alcohol impairment was also implicated in about a third of all fatal traffic accidents. The increase in fatalities has been repeated across the country as lower gas prices allow for more people to spend more time on the road.
Role of distracted driving
One question that remains unanswered, however, is what role distracted driving has played in the increasing number of traffic fatalities. As the Dayton Daily News reports, safety experts agree that distracted driving is behind a large number of fatal accidents, but quantifying the problem has proven difficult since few people who are guilty of driving while distracted will admit to the offense.
Nonetheless, some studies do provide a glimpse of just how big the problem is. A 2014 report by the National Safety Council, for example, found that cellphone use was implicated in 26 percent of all car accidents, although that figure likely underestimates the extent of the problem nor does it account for other forms of distraction, such as applying makeup, talking to passengers, or changing the radio. Another report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that distracted driving accidents killed 3,328 people in 2012 alone and injured a further 421,000.
Personal injury law
Driving while distracted is a dangerous and often a deadly activity. Taking one’s eyes off the read for just a couple seconds is more than enough time to cause a serious motor vehicle accident. Those who have been injured by a distracted or reckless driver often don’t know where to turn to after their ordeal. A personal injury attorney can help. By calling such an attorney today, accident victims can get advice about what steps to take and whether they may be able to pursue compensation.