Report: Traffic deaths are on the rise in California and across the U.S.

Deadly California car crashes have increased markedly in recent years. Negligent habits, such as distracted and drugged driving, may be partly responsible.

For much of the last few decades, car accident deaths have fallen gradually throughout the U.S. During the recent recession, fatalities dropped, especially quickly here in California, declining 36 percent from 2006 to 2010, according to The Sacramento Bee. Unfortunately, deadly accidents are now becoming more common once again, both in California and other parts of the country.

Deadly changes

From 2010 to 2013, fatal auto accidents increased notably in California. Officials reported a 13-percent jump in traffic deaths over that time period, with a total of 3,104 lives lost in 2013. State officials also expect accident data from 2014 to show a continuation of the trend.

According to The Los Angeles Times, an early analysis of accidents that have taken place this year reveals that this pattern has continued into 2015. The number of deadly accidents reported during the first six months of 2015 was 20 percent greater than the number that occurred during the first half of 2014. Altogether, California recorded 1,556 deaths, the most of any state but Texas.

This change reflects a national spike in car accident injuries and deaths. According to Newsweek, between the first six months of 2014 and the same part of 2015, serious injuries jumped 30 percent. Over the same intervals, fatalities rose 14 percent. Unfortunately, some experts believe that this pattern may only continue, as many of its contributing factors are expected to persist.

Driving factors

The rebounding economy, which has led to more people driving more frequently, is likely one reason for this tragic development. The Los Angeles Times notes that the total number of miles driven by all U.S. residents reached an all-time high during the first six months of 2015. Falling gas prices also may make commuting by car more feasible and desirable for many people. As the economy continues improving, serious accidents may only become more prevalent.

Less innocent factors may also be contributing to this rise in serious or catastrophic car accidents, unfortunately. According to The Sacramento Bee, the California Highway Patrol and other agencies in the state cite the following potential reasons for the rise in accidents:

  • Increased use of marijuana, which may lead to more drugged driving crashes
  • A rise in other forms of drugged driving, including driving under the influence of prescription substances
  • An increase in the number of California drivers who report using smart phones while behind the wheel

Sadly, these problems could become more prevalent in coming years. The population of older drivers who rely on various prescriptions is growing. Proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, if successful, could lead to more people driving under the influence of this substance. Additionally, drivers distracted with cell phones have already proven a persistent problem, in spite of safety campaigns and legal deterrents.

Holding drivers accountable

This increase in serious accidents underscores why it is important for drivers in California to understand their rights in the event of an accident. If a driver causes injuries or death while taking needless risks, he or she may be found liable for the accident. Victims or surviving family members may then be able to secure various damages to address medical costs, income loss, emotional suffering and more.

The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in California is only two years. Therefore, anyone who has been harmed or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident should consider consulting with an attorney promptly.