It is hard to imagine what it feels like to lose someone in a car accident. In 2015, the families of over 35,000 people learned exactly what it is like. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 35,092 people were killed in fatal car accidents last year, which is a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. There has not been a single-year increase this large since 1966.

Why the significant increase? Authorities say that more people drove in 2015 as a result of job growth and lower gas prices. The NHTSA found that the number of miles traveled has increased 3.5 percent since 2014. This has played a role in the increase in pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcycle deaths.

Despite this increase, officials say that the overall numbers look much better than they did 10 years ago. Back then, there were over 42,000 road fatalities. Improved vehicle safety features, increased seat belt usage and fewer intoxicated drivers have all played a role in this improvement.

The causes of these traffic deaths are not surprising. Drunk driving and speeding caused approximately 30 percent of the deaths, while distracted driving was the cause behind roughly 10 percent of the deaths. Nearly 50 percent of the passengers killed in these accidents were not wearing seatbelts.

Losing a loved one in a fatal accident can be traumatizing. Families of Louisiana accident victims may file a wrongful death suit to recover damages for the one they lost. These damages can cover funeral costs, medical expenses and earning capacity of the deceased. Though nothing will bring their loved one back, a lawsuit will give them less to worry about as they grieve.

Source: WLRN, “Traffic Deaths Climb By Largest Increase in Decades,” Richard Gonzales, Aug. 29, 2016