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Accident deaths on the rise despite safety advances

Ohio residents may be aware that motor vehicle accident fatalities rose sharply in 2015 after falling steadily for many years. Road safety experts say that the increase in road deaths is the result of higher traffic levels caused by falling oil prices and an economy that continues to grow, and they expect fatalities to remain high for the foreseeable future.

Road safety groups like the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had hoped that advances in automobile safety technology would be able to keep traffic accident deaths in check despite increased congestion. The IIHS gave much of the credit to automakers when previous research revealed that driver deaths had fallen by about a third within three years, but subsequent studies suggest that fatalities are going up even among motorists who drive vehicles with the latest active and passive safety features.

The IIHS was able to come to this conclusion after studying figures from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to identify accident and fatality trends for vehicle classes and individual models. The safety group determined that advances in safety equipment were being partially mitigated by the public's taste for smaller and lighter vehicles that use less fuel. According to the IHSS, smaller cars with more advanced safety features may be only marginally safer in real-world driving situations than older, heavier and less well-equipped vehicles, and in some cases less safe.

An epidemic of distracted driving is also making the nation's roads more treacherous. These accidents are particularly dangerous because they often occur at highway speeds and distracted drivers rarely take evasive action. Experienced personal injury attorneys may study cellphone usage data and the information stored by modern vehicle electronics systems when distraction is suspected and police reports are inconclusive, and this evidence could be used to establish negligence in lawsuits filed on behalf of car accident victims.

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