Does a healthy economy encourage negligent driving and crashes?

Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2015 indicates that fatal crashes rose by 7.7 percent. The increase was even worse for fatal motorcycle accidents, bicycle fatalities and pedestrian deaths. In fact, the combined fatalities made 2015 the deadliest year since 2008.

Some of the fluctuation may be tied to the improving economy. Economic dips may reduce the amount of driving and, consequently, the number of traffic fatalities. A surging economy and lower gas prices, in contrast, may encourage more driving. The sheer increase in traffic volume may raise the odds of a crash.

One commentator also characterizes the nature of driving to be different during times of economic prosperity. Instead of simply commuting to work, Americans may engage in riskier driving trips in times of financial health, such as long weekend trips. Despite those economy-related fluctuations, however, the overall trend has been a reduction in traffic deaths since the 1970s. The exception is the past year.

So are driving habits becoming riskier? Using a cellphone behind the wheel is certainly not an advisable practice. Many states also no longer require motorcyclists to wear helmets, which another commentator believes to account for the spike in motorcycle deaths.

If you have lost a loved one to a fatal traffic accident, a legal claim may be available against the negligent driver. Although no amount of money can ever fill the emptiness caused by a wrongful death, a civil lawsuit is at least a process whereby the party at fault must answer to his or her actions under oath. In fact, the rationale of Alabama’s wrongful death statute is to punish the wrongdoer

Source: AP, “Traffic deaths surged in 2015 as driving hit new record,” Joan Lowy, July 1, 2016

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