US traffic deaths are high and getting worse, studies show

The U.S. ranks poorly in terms of traffic safety when compared to other affluent countries.

Compared to most affluent countries, the United States stands out for the relatively high number of people who are killed in traffic accidents each year. According to CBS News, a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that U.S. traffic deaths are well ahead of traffic deaths in other developed countries. That report found that despite improvements in car safety, dangerous driving continues to cause major problems on the nation's roads and highways. Furthermore, recently released statistics show that fatal car accidents are on the rise.

U.S. road safety

The CDC report compared traffic safety across 20 affluent countries, including the U.S. The study found that the rate of traffic deaths in the U.S. is more than twice as high as the average across all 20 countries. Furthermore, although the U.S. has seen improvements in traffic safety, with traffic deaths declining by a third between 2000 and 2013, other countries have seen much greater improvements over that same period.

Americans do tend to drive more than people in other countries, which goes some ways towards explaining why traffic deaths are higher in the U.S. However, greater car use does not entirely account for why fatal traffic accidents are so much more frequent in the U.S. than overseas. The same study found that speeding and drunk driving are more common causes of fatal accidents in the U.S. when compared to other countries and that seatbelt use tended to be lower in the U.S. than in many other affluent countries.

Traffic deaths rising

The study comes just as a downward trend in traffic fatalities has been reversed in the past year. According to U.S. News & World Report, traffic fatalities across the U.S. rose by 7.7 percent last year, reaching 35,200. That's the most number of people who have been killed in traffic accidents in a single year since 2008, when 37,423 people died.

The increase is likely due to low gas prices and a recovering economy, both of which contribute to people spending more time in their cars. However, other factors are also involved. Distracted driving, for example, continues to plague roads and highways throughout the country. With many drivers using their cellphones when behind the wheel, the threat posed by distracted motorists continues to grow.

Hurt in a crash?

With deadly traffic accidents on the rise, it is important for all road users to remain vigilant, especially now that the busy summer driving season is here. For those who have been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, help is at hand. A personal injury attorney can assist accident victims in a number of ways, including by informing them of their legal options, representing them when dealing with insurers, and helping them pursue claims for financial compensation.