Newly released data from the Michigan State Police show a concerning trend for 2015. Fatalities caused by traffic accidents jumped ten percent overall, with some specific types of accidents seeing even greater increases. The number of crash-related deaths in Michigan has been decreasing over recent years, but 2015 was a reversal of that progress. 963 individuals died as a result of a traffic accident, the highest number since 2008.
A Closer Look at the Fatality Data
While the overall number of traffic fatalities increased, the new data shows other concerning increases.
- Bicyclist fatalities increased nearly 60% between 2014 and 2015. It is believed these fatalities are increasing nation-wide due to increased bicycle usage, especially as a mode of regular transportation for commuting.
- The number of motorcyclists killed in traffic accidents increased 29%.
- Fatalities involving alcohol increased 28%. Alcohol-related crashes continue to be of particular concern, as there has been a consistent public health focus on preventing drunk driving for decades.
- Teens were particularly impacted by traffic accidents in 2015, with a 23% increase in traffic deaths involving teens between the ages of 13 and19.
- Fatal crashes in which drugs played a role also increased nearly 20%.
- Pedestrian fatalities surged by 15%.
The higher number of deaths on Michigan roads reflects a national trend; however, Michigan’s increase was even higher than the national average. Now the data is finalized, the search for causes begins.
Errors in Human Behavior and Economy Play a Role
A partnership between the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) and the University of Michigan’s Center for the Management of Information for Safe and Sustainable Transportation provides research and analysis that are ultimately used to develop policies and programs aimed at increasing road safety. One recent change will increase the information available for research purposes. The traffic crash report form will include additional options intended to allow officers to clarify specific uses of a cellphone contributing to a crash. Beginning in January 2016, officers can now select crash contributors such as “texting” or “talking.” The new form also differentiates between drivers who are actually on their handheld device and those who are using hands-free technology.
Experts say a majority of accident fatalities are caused by human error, including the failure to wear a seatbelt, driving while under the influence, and being distracted while driving. In this case, they also believe the economy plays a role, as risky drivers (teenagers and adults who regularly engage in risky behaviors) tend to drive less when the economy is poor. Those who are unemployed and concerned about high gas prices are less likely to drive. It is possible that as the country has come out of a recession, these drivers have returned to the road in greater numbers and for more driving miles, and the number of fatal accidents have therefore increased.
Michigan Wrongful Death Attorneys Are On Your Side
The experts at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm have been supporting families who have been injured or lost loved ones in car accidents for 40 years. We understand what it takes to win your case and ensure you are compensated appropriately to regain your health or provide for family members after a terrible loss. Our wrongful death and auto accident lawyers have a long history of protecting Michigan citizens and families, and we are not afraid to take on powerful insurance companies. Contact us today at 1-800-LEE-FREE for a risk-free, no-cost consultation.