A man in Spartanburg has been criminally charged in connection with a fatal car accident that killed an Asheville man in June. The 32-year-old defendant is charged with felony DUI involving death and two counts of felony DUI causing injury. According to police quoted in the Asheville Citizen Times, the suspect was traveling 70 mph in a 35 mph and was under the influence of alcohol. The 57-year-old victim died at the scene.
Sadly, this is a reality that far too many Americans know – and it’s getting worse.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports traffic deaths in 2015 spiked by almost 8 percent over 2014 totals. While it’s true that car accident deaths overall have gone down dramatically in the last 30 years, any uptick should trigger concern and, where possible, action.
Although the data is preliminary, the report indicates that in 9 of 10 regions in the U.S., deadly traffic accidents are up. The July 2016 report shows that in Region 3, of which North Carolina is a part, traffic deaths are up 9 percent. And in Region 4, of which South Carolina is a part, traffic fatalities have spiked by a startling 14 percent.
So what’s going on?
Well, the economy isn’t a factor that can be entirely overlooked. With the U.S. having emerged from The Great Recession, more people are working, more people have disposable income and that means vehicle mileage is going to go up as more people commute to their jobs, take weekend trips and are just generally out-and-about more.
Still, the improving economy is only part of the equation. The fact is, more than 95 percent of car accidents in South Carolina and elsewhere can be traced back to human error – whether it’s drunk driving, distraction, inexperience or poor split-second judgment.
Distracted driving in particular is an increasing problem in recent years. The majority of Americans now possess smartphones, which allow them not just to take a phone call, but to check their email, post to social media, look up directions, surf the web or read a Kindle book. This technology is a marvel – but it’s deadly when used by drivers. Those who aren’t focusing their attentions toward the road create a huge risk not just to themselves but to everyone else in their car and in their path.
The NHTSA initiated a response to those early estimates that included hosting several summits with industry leaders and safety advocates to determine what could be done to drive down these numbers before they balloon any bigger. The conclusion of these meetings, held in February and March, was that there are several key areas that must be targeted if safety goals are to be attained:
- Drunk driving/ drugged driving;
- Distracted driving;
- Drowsy driving;
- Failure to use safety features (i.e., seat belts, child car seats, etc.);
- Protection of vulnerable road users (i.e., bicyclists and pedestrians).
Increasing awareness of how deadly these behaviors are is critical. But officials also recognize the benefit of advancing technology in vehicle manufacturing. That’s why the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a recent agreement that will have 99 percent of all new cars coming standard with automatic emergency braking systems by 2022.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
NHTSA data shows traffic deaths up 7.7 percent in 2015, July 1, 2016, NHTSA
More Blog Entries:
Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church – Injured Pedestrian Sues After Hit by Car, July 5, 2016, Spartanburg Car Accident Lawyer Blog