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Traffic deaths add to woes of 2016 and the future

2016 was an impactful year for everyone in one way or another. As 2017 passes, we work to ensure the changes of last year have a positive effect on the future. One answer safety experts hope to find is the question of what caused a nationwide increase in traffic deaths in 2016.

After a record-breaking year in 2015, the instances of fatalities increased again last year. Through September, 27,875 people died on U.S. roadways, an eight percent increase from that same time in 2015 and equivalent to 14 plane crashes per year. The New England region saw a 20 percent increase in deaths in 2016, the highest in the country.

Road to Zero

Although deaths are up across the board, the good news for drivers in Colorado and the mountain west is that our region saw just a one percent increase in fatalities, the lowest rate in the country. A brighter economy and lower gas prices could be a reason for more roadway deaths in recent years, but safety experts aren't ready to place the blame there yet.

In response to the increase in fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created the "Road to Zero" campaign with the goal of ending all traffic-related deaths by 2045. The agency hopes to use technology to collect data from our driving habits and apply the numbers to crash reduction.

Cutting edge data, traditional solutions

While high-tech devices like cell phones and GPS could be our biggest distracters on the road, they could also be our greatest saviors. The traffic study firm Streetlight Data is attempting to use location information from smartphones to turn into metrics related to crash causes. They then hope to make the data available for free via an extensive online database.

In the meantime, safety experts recommend drivers use traditional "low tech" methods to maintain safety on the roads like avoiding distracted driving, reducing speed and wearing a seat belt. Complex problems can have simple solutions, but that doesn't diminish the effects a fatal crash can have on a victim's family and loved ones.

Medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income and insurance costs can add up to nearly one million dollars after a fatal crash. While national safety experts await the advancement of technology to make our roads safer, drivers can continue to rely on personal injury attorneys to gain access to care and compensation after an accident.

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