Alabama traffic fatalities soar by 25 percent in the past year

Traffic fatalities soared 25 percent in Alabama last year with speeding and distracted driving mainly to blame.

Traffic fatalities are soaring in Alabama, with a recent University of Alabama study showing a nearly 25 percent increase last year, according to the News Courier. While official figures have yet to be released, the study suggests that serious traffic accidents in the state are increasing at an alarmingly rapid rate that is well above the national rate. Safety experts and law enforcement officials say that speed, distracted driving, and lack of seat belt usage are all important factors that help explain the dramatic rise in fatalities.

Fatalities surging in Alabama

The study by the University of Alabama's Center for Advanced Public Safety found that an estimated 1,058 people died on Alabama's roads and highways in 2016. That is a staggering 24.6 percent increase over the 849 people who died in motor vehicle accidents in the state the year before.

Those figures are alarming and well above the national average. Overall United States traffic fatalities rose by six percent last year, according to the New York Times. While that was one of the biggest increases in the last half-century, it is relatively small compared to Alabama's rapid rise in fatal accidents.

Driver errors to blame

Human errors are behind 94 percent of all traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Safety experts say bad driving is also why Alabama's fatality rate is increasing so rapidly. Speeding seems to be the main culprit. The number of fatalities caused by drivers exceeding 90 mph, for example, went up from 28 deaths in 2015 to 44 in 2016. Furthermore, every 10 mph increase in speed doubles the chances of an accident victim being killed.

Seat belt use was also a major factor in the fatality rate. Although 90 percent of Alabamans use a seat belt when driving, more than half of people who were killed in auto accidents in the state last year were not wearing a restraint. Seat belts could have saved an estimated 200 lives last year had every person involved in a wreck been wearing one.

Finally, distracted driving was another major issue. Distracted driving fatalities in Alabama have increased by 20 percent in the past two years. While national studies suggest about 16 percent of fatal wrecks are caused by distracted driving, the true figure is likely much higher since it can often be extremely difficult to verify whether or not a driver was distracted at the time of a crash.

Personal injury law

As the accident rate in Alabama continues to soar, anybody who has been hurt in a crash should know they have someone they can turn to for help. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims understand what options they may have moving forward, including possibly pursuing financial compensation to help them pay for medical bills, therapy, lost income, property damage, and more.