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Surge in road fatalities highest since the 1960s

Road users in Maryland and other states will find little to be happy about in a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Aug. 29. The safety agency says that the 7.2 percent increase in 2015 road accident fatalities over the previous year was the highest year-on-year increase in crash deaths since 1966.

The NHTSA says that more Americans are being killed in car accidents because more vehicles are using the nation's roads. It believes that this increase in traffic levels is being caused by low fuel prices and an economy that continues to climb out of recession, and it warns law enforcement agencies and legislators that they can expect highways to become even more congested in the years ahead.

However, there are steps that drivers and passengers can take to reduce their chances of being killed in a traffic accident. Studies show that wearing seat belts can greatly increase accident survival rates, but only about half of those killed in crashes in 2015 were properly restrained according to the NHTSA report. Motorists also bear some responsibility for higher death rates as 30 percent of the fatal crashes in 2015 were caused by drivers who were violating drunk driving laws or exceeding speed limits.

The dependent family members of those killed in motor vehicle accidents often face great monetary hardships when a depended upon paycheck is lost, and personal injury attorneys may initiate wrongful death litigation on their behalf in situations where the crash was caused by the negligence of another driver. Damages that are commonly sought in this type of a lawsuit include funeral and burial expenses as well as the loss of the contribution to household expenses that the decedent had been making.

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