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Why have motor vehicle accident deaths increased recently?

From 1963 to 1991, there were at least 40,000 deaths in motor vehicle accidents every year in the United States. In 1992, we dipped below 40,000 deaths for the first time in decades. It immediately went back above 40,000 in 1993 and never dropped below that number again until 2008.

Thankfully, since then, there have been fewer than 40,000 deaths in motor vehicles accidents in the U.S. The declining deaths continued throughout the early part of the decade, seemingly harboring a new dawn for road safety. It seemed like we were headed towards a continually dropping fatality rate for motor vehicle accidents. But then the last two years happened.

In 2015, there were 35,485 deaths, a steep 10.5 percent increase in the motor vehicle accident fatality rate compared to the previous year. And then in 2016, the number jumped again – all the way up to 37,461 deaths.

Road safety is, yet again, under threat. No one is sure why the numbers are increasing again, but there are some likely culprits. Distracted driving is a scourge on the roads, and far too many people prioritize their cell phone over the road in front of them. Similarly, many people get drunk or high and then decide that now is the perfect time to get behind the wheel of a car.

Whatever the case, when the motor vehicle accident fatality rate increases like this, something must be done to improve road safety.

Source: Wikipedia, "List of motor vehicle deaths in U.S. by year," Accessed Jan. 18, 2018

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