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Traffic deaths drop

Despite a strong economy and the use of cell phones by drivers, traffic fatalities dropped last year. The decline in fatal car accidents was attributed to several causes but was also accompanied by other mixed statistics.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that accident deaths in this country fell by 1.8 percent to 37,133 in 2017. This broke a two-year trend comprised of a 14 percent increase in deaths.

Drunk driving deaths fell 1.1 percent and accounted for 29 percent of all traffic fatalities, which was the lowest number recorded since 1982. Last year, 10,874 people died in drunk-driving accidents. According to numbers released earlier this year, Pennsylvania had 1,137 traffic deaths. This was the lowest number reported since record-keeping began in 1928.

Traffic deaths usually rise during a strong economy because people drive more for discretionary or pleasure trips. Factors leading to this reduction may have included the use of ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, which prevented some impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel. Other causes of this reduction included more seat belt usage, improving technology, such as automatic braking and lane-change warnings and campaigns against texting and driving.

However, deaths involving large trucks rose by 16 percent. Pedestrian deaths dropped 1.7 percent, but this is still unacceptable because there was a 22 percent increase from 2014 to 2016.

Some experts also say that this drop in accident fatalities may not signal any long-term trends. Statistically, it is not unusual for accident deaths to drop slightly after rising for two years.

Accident deaths, especially involving a pedestrian or a drunk driver, are still too high. An attorney can help victims of these accidents seek compensation for their injuries.

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