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NHTSA releases data on car crash deaths in 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that last year, 37,461 people were killed in car crashes in the U.S., marking a nine-year high from the 41,259 killed in 2007. Residents of New York and the nation are alarmed, and some look to the future of self-driving vehicles as a solution.

Bad driving choices appear to be the culprit of the increase in fatalities. Speeding deaths increased by 4 percent, DUI fatalities rose by 1.7 percent, and deaths attributed to seatbelt neglect rose by 4.6 percent. There was also a 5.1 percent increase in motorcycle deaths and a 9 percent jump in pedestrian deaths.

On the other hand, distracted driving was responsible for 2.2 percent fewer fatalities than in the previous year. Smartphones and other technology can still be a major distraction. In October, AAA released a study blaming touchscreen systems because they allow drivers to use them while in motion.

Car safety is better than ever with advanced air bags, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning systems and other features on many new models. The federal government has been pushing for self-driving vehicles as part of its goal to eliminate car crash fatalities within the next 30 years. The U.S. House passed a measure in July that could grant certain exemptions to the makers of self-driving vehicles.

When a motor vehicle accident leads to death, the decedent's family may wish to have a lawyer assess the claim. If the decedent was in no way responsible for the crash, then the family can go forward with a wrongful death suit. If the defendant was driving under the influence, then the charge of criminal negligence will be separate from the family's claim of civil negligence. A typical settlement in a wrongful death suit may cover the cost of the funeral and any pre-death medical treatments.

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