North Carolina residents aren't the only ones reeling from deadly car crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 37,461 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2016. This marks a nine-year high, with only 2007 surpassing the total with 41,259 deaths.
The causes are familiar but no less significant. Neglecting to wear a seat belt contributed to 4.6 percent more deaths than in the previous year. Driving under the influence caused 1.7 percent more fatalities, and there was a 4 percent increase in speeding deaths. Nor were motorcyclists and pedestrians immune, as there was respectively a 5.1 percent and 9 percent spike in their deaths.
New cars are equipped with safety features like automatic emergency braking, rearview cameras, lane departure warning systems, and advanced air bags, yet these have failed to curb the increase in traffic fatalities. A major factor is driver distraction, as some technologies like vehicle touchscreens force drivers to take their eyes off the road.
This has led many to consider the future of self-driving vehicles. In 2016, the Obama administration set up a goal of eliminating fatal accidents in the next 30 years using self-driving vehicles. To this end, a proposal has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives that would make such vehicles exempt from current auto safety standards.
When someone dies because a driver was texting, speeding, or drinking, the victim's family could file a wrongful death suit. An attorney who has experience with these matters can outline the types of damages that could be sought as a result of a fatal car accident.