Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Are Rising Road Crash Statistics Reason for Alarm?

Should people worry about the increasing number of road crashes in the United States? Is it time to sound the alarm so that motorists will take note to slow down and drive safer? These are questions the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is grappling with as data from 2016 shows a significant increase in the number of accident rates and fatalities.

In 2016, there were 37,461 lives lost in automobile accidents. This was an increase of 5.6% from 2015. However, the number of miles driven rose by only 2.2%. Overall, the death rate per mile driven rose by 2.6%. This data shows that while Americans are driving less, the dangers they face are increasing by the mile.

Road crash statistics from 2016 show that certain behaviors continue to cause increasing numbers of accidents and fatalities. Speed-related fatalities rose by 4% to 10,111. Deaths caused by failure to wear seatbelts rose by 4.6% to 10,428. Motorcyclist deaths rose by 5.1% to 5,286. This was the highest rate since 2008. Of greatest concern was the number of pedestrian deaths which rose 9% to 5,987 which was the highest level since 1990.

While officials are concerned about the upward trend of road crash statistics, there were some bright spots in the data. Drowsy driving deaths decreased by 3.5% to 805 fatalities and distracted driving deaths decreased by 2.2% to 3,450. This shows that the efforts of parents, advertising, and law enforcement are starting to raise awareness of these issues which in turn is reducing the number of accidents caused by drowsy and distracted drivers.

The statistics from Kansas mirror these national trends in many categories. In 2016, the number of traffic fatalities rose 21% to 429. This was a sharp increase over the 355 recorded in 2015 and the highest rate since 2010. Failing to use seatbelts proved particularly deadly. In 2016, 150 fatalities of unrestrained vehicle occupants were recorded. This was an 18% increase over the 127 recorded in 2015.

Motorcyclist fatalities also rose. In 2016, there were 52 fatalities which was an 18% increase over the 44 recorded in 2015. In 2016, 556 drivers were involved in fatal crashes. This was an increase of 20% from the 465 recorded in 2015. Most alarmingly was the number of pedestrian fatalities which rose 71% from 24 in 2015 to 41 in 2016.

The bright spots in the data for Kansas? The only numbers that declined were those of drivers involved in fatal crashes under the age of 21 which dropped 8.5% from 117 in 2015 to 107 in 2016. This is due in part to the continued requirement of teenage drivers to hold graduated driver's licenses as they learn to drive. Kansas law allows the injured plaintiff who has been injured in a car accident, motorcycle accident or truck accident or other vehicular accident to add an additional cause of action whenever there is a minor driver or an incompetent driver and another person or parent has negligently provided the vehicle to that minor or person. This is typically called negligent entrustment.

I recently had a case where we added a negligent entrustment case against the minor’s father because the minor was driving while intoxicated. The minor was only at a .06 when the normal DUI is at .08 and above. Because the minor was driving while intoxicated the charge against the minor and the evidence about it for the negligent entrustment claim increased the value of the claim from what would have been approximately $70-$80,000.00 up to a total settlement of $95,000.00. This is because the parent that provided vehicle knew or reasonably should have known that their minor child was incompetent and would drink alcohol before driving. The insurance carrier recognized that punitive damages may be provided in the case of intoxicated driving in the value of the case increased substantially.

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident where another person has provided a vehicle to an intoxicated or incompetent driver or you are involved in a case where there is a minor who was driving a vehicle that was provided by their parent, your lawyer should investigate this avenue in order to make sure that you receive adequate monetary compensation for your injuries.

The data shows that Kansas is quickly becoming more dangerous for motorists. The rates of accidents, fatalities, and the factors that cause deadly accidents are rising faster than they are at the national level. It is something that should give every motorist a moment of pause the next time they get behind the wheel of their automobile. Drivers should take things slower, pay closer attention to the road, and remain cognizant of everything from changing weather conditions to traffic congestion that can cause an accident.

Brad Pistotnik Law represents motorists in Kansas City, Topeka, Hays, Olathe, Wichita, Garden City, Dodge City, Liberal, Satanta, Hutchinson, Salina, Newton, McPherson, Emporia, Colby, Great Bend, Kinsley, and elsewhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Illinois who are involved in injury and fatality related automobile accidents. Our clients are more than road crash statistics and we work hard to secure clients the compensation they need to treat their injuries and recover from their accidents.

We are Brad Pistotnik Law. ® We are Abogado El Toro. ® Hire the real Brad. ® Call in the Bull. ® We are the Bull Attorneys! ™ Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL. Our main office location is at 10111 E. 21st St. N., Suite 204, Wichita Kansas 67206. We will have a new office opened in late January of 2018 in Garden City, Kansas on Kansas Avenue for all of our western Kansas injury clients that need a lawyer, attorney or abogado.