The roads in Michigan and other U.S. states have become more congested in recent years as plummeting fuel costs and a thriving economy have prompted more Americans to travel, and this has resulted in an alarming spike in traffic accident fatalities despite major advances in automotive design and safety systems. Economic experts generally agree that the economy will continue to perform well in the years ahead, and most road safety advocates expect fatality figures to fall only slightly if jobs remain plentiful and gas prices remain low.
When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied driver death rates earlier, it concluded that improved automobile safety features were largely responsible for lowering fatalities by about a third in only three years. However, its latest study suggests that higher traffic levels are more than enough to counter these technological improvements. The number of road users killed in car accidents increased by an alarming 7 percent in 2015 after falling steadily for many years, and data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System suggests that the figures for 2016 will be even more sobering.
While great strides have been made in the area of automotive design, the latest passive and active safety features are often fitted to lighter, smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The IIHS uses government crash data to study the safety records of particular models and entire vehicle classes, and it has found that older, larger and heavier vehicles could be safer in real-world driving situations as their lighter and more nimble replacements.
Traffic accident deaths are also on the rise due to the proliferation of smartphones and a worrying increase in distracted driving. Experienced personal injury attorneys may suspect distraction when drivers took no evasive action before they crashed and police found no evidence of impairment. In these situations, attorneys representing people who have been harmed in such a crash could study cellphone records or the data captured on passenger vehicle black boxes.