Although U.S. deaths in traffic accidents had been dropping steadily for decades, they have recently jumped dramatically. In the first six months of this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that deaths on U.S. highways climbed to 17,775, an increase of 10.4% over the number registered in the first half of 2015. That’s more than 296 deaths per month.
The figure comes on top of a rise in 2015, which was the worst year for increases in traffic fatalities in half a century.
Distracted driving fueled by new technologies
Many observers believe that the disturbing increases are caused by widespread distracted driving, fueled in turn by new technologies.
Ten years ago, distracted driving concerns centered around cell phones and text messages. Because these required handheld cell and smartphones, many people — law makers included — focused on keeping drivers from calling or texting, and keeping their hands on the wheel. New York State law, for example, prohibits holding a portable electronic device and talking, texting, or playing games.
However, experts in highway safety think that more recent technology patterns have actually contributed to the spike in traffic deaths. That pattern is the increasing trend toward vehicle WiFi that allows use of the internet and of apps in the car, without hands or devices necessarily having to be in direct contact.
New vehicles come equipped with software that connects to smartphones. As a result, drivers and passengers can, without taking their hands from the wheel, make phone calls, send texts, and use apps, from Pokémon Go to music services.
But the focus on hands-free assumes that motorists can participate in all these activities while driving without losing any focus or concentration. And that assumption is far from universally shared.
Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council and former chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, believes that it may in fact foster more expanded use of smartphone functions while driving, which in turn leads to more distractions as drivers concentrate on the apps and the activities instead of driving.
Social media apps cause unsafe driving habits
Recent news indicates that use of social media while driving causes accidents, and unsafe driving habits that contribute to accidents. A Georgia suit claims a teenage driver in a September 2015 accident attained speeds of over 100 miles per hour while simultaneously using popular social media app Snapchat.
In late October, a crash killed five people in Florida. The Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating, but preliminary reports show that one passenger made a Snapchat video showing the speedometer at 115 miles per hour.
Legal advocacy in Long Island
Here at Edelman, Krasin and Jaye, the frequency of auto accidents on Long Island and throughout New York is a source of concern. Auto accidents may result in serious injuries and death. The injuries may result in loss of ability to work and to intensive physical therapy and medical interventions.
Our experienced car accident attorneys are all too familiar with the psychological trauma of losing a loved one in a traffic collision, particularly one caused by negligence such as distracted driving. Given the multiple variables affecting claims and the changing nature of laws concerning technology, it is highly important to consult a law firm with expertise in car accident litigation and New York’s no-fault insurance.
With convenient office locations in Long Island and the Bronx, our attorneys stand ready to assist. For a complimentary case review, please call us today at (800) 469-7429.