Fatalities caused by auto accidents rose across the US in 2012

For the first time in years, motor vehicle travel became more dangerous in 2012 than the year prior, according to the National Safety Council. The non-profit group has estimated that the number of people who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2012 increased year-over-year for the first time since 2005.

According to the NSC, approximately 36,200 people were killed in auto accidents in the United States in 2012 - representing a 5 percent increase from the year before. In addition, the amount of money spent on the consequences of motor vehicle accidents rose in 2012, based on the NSC's report.

In 2012, Americans spent around $276.6 billion on problems stemming from auto collisions, including:

  • Property damage, including car repairs following an accident
  • Personal injuries, including medical expenses and insurance costs
  • Lost wages

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately $969 million is spent in Louisiana alone for costs associated with traffic fatalities. Those costs include around $8 million for medical expenses and another $961 million in lost wages. The CDC reports that so-called work loss costs are particularly high because motor vehicle accidents result in the deaths of an extremely high number of young Americans. As younger people have more years to participate in the labor market, the resulting lost salary and benefits are high.

The rise in the number of fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents has been blamed, in part, on the burgeoning economy and the relatively mild winter experienced across the country. As the economy has improved, the number of people on the road has risen as they returned to work. The vice president of the NSC also noted that people tend to drive less when the weather is bad, which leads to fewer accidents. Consequently, a mild weather has led to a larger number of people on the roads more frequently; thus, increasing the chances of dangerous auto accidents.

In addition, some have pointed to the continuing problem of distracted driving as a reason for the increase in the number of traffic deaths in 2012.

Avoid distracted driving crashes in Louisiana

Although many states across the country - including Louisiana - have enacted legislation to prohibit distracted driving, these risky habits continue to be a problem. More people died in distracted driving accidents in 2011 than the year prior. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,330 people died and 387,000 people sustained personal injuries in distracted driving accidents in 2011.

In Louisiana, all drivers are prohibited from texting while behind the wheel. In addition, novice drivers - considered those under the age of 18 - and bus drivers are banned from using any type of cellphone while on the road. The prohibition includes not only handheld cellphones, but also technology that allows for hands-free communication.

In addition to the ban on young drivers, all motorists with either a learner's permit or an intermediate license are prohibited from using handheld cellphones while driving. This prohibition is in place for any driver with such a license, regardless of the motorist's age.

Despite these laws, people continue to suffer serious injuries in distracted driving accidents in Louisiana and across the country. If you or a loved one has been injured in such an accident, consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.