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Highway fatality statistics may not tell us everything

The federal government has released a preliminary report in which the number of highway traffic fatalities for the last years is the lowest in recorded history. But what do those statistics leave out? Though this report focuses on fatal car accidents, Louisiana drivers know that motor vehicle accidents in which someone is severely injured are just as serious.

It is undeniable that the news of a record-low number of traffic deaths is good news, but it is unclear if the fall in deaths means an increase in traffic accident-related injuries. One of the reasons why there has been such a decline in traffic deaths is because of the increased safety features that are found in newer vehicles. As car manufacturers develop stability controls for cars, inflatable rear seat belts or airbags for rear-end collisions, this technology will lessen the severity of injuries sustained in an accident, but it will not eliminate accidents altogether.

All Louisiana drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists have a right to be free from injury. When a driver is busy sending a text message and smashes into an oncoming vehicle, seriously injury the driver and his or her passengers, the texting driver may face a personal injury lawsuit. If the accident victims require medical attention, they may be able to be compensated for their medical bills. If they have to take time off of work to recover, they may be able to sue for lost wages. And, should the driver cause a fatal car accident, he or she may be held liable under a wrongful death lawsuit.

In many situations, these new safety features are coming out on new vehicles, but that means that older models are still being driven without them. As more and more vehicles are replaced with newer, safer models, the number of fatal accidents will drop even more. What is important to note, however, is that there will continue to be accidents, at least as long as there are still careless drivers on the road.

Source: MSNBC, “Highway deaths plunging as cars become safer,” Paul A. Eisenstein, May 21, 2012

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