For many decades, motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. declined. This was due to many factors, including the increased safety of vehicles and road designs. However, research indicates that motor vehicle wrecks, particularly those resulting in serious injury or death, have risen sharply in the U.S. over the past decade or so.

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A full study of the trend would be necessary to determine why this is. That said, it’s already possible to identify some factors that account for this alarming reversal. Consider the following points:

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become a more common cause of motor vehicle collisions in recent years. This is almost undeniably due to increased smartphone usage. As more and more drivers use phones in their vehicles, more and more crashes resulting from distracted driving will occur.

It’s important to address this cause now before it becomes a more significant issue. Younger generations have grown up with smartphones and similar digital devices. Using these devices may be even more natural for them than it is for older generations. Thus, it’s possible they may be more prone to distracted driving.

Individual motorists can limit their chances of causing distracted driving wrecks by never using their devices while driving. The safest option may be to turn off one’s device while operating a motor vehicle. Or, motorists can download apps that prevent them from receiving calls and other forms of notifications while driving. If a motorist must check their device, they should pull over and park in a safe place before doing so.

Limited Pedestrian Infrastructure

It’s essential to remember that motor vehicle wrecks don’t exclusively involve vehicles colliding with each other. They can also involve vehicles striking bicyclists and pedestrians. These types of wrecks are quite likely to result in serious injury or death, as pedestrians and bicyclists don’t enjoy the protection that the metal frame of an enclosed vehicle might offer.

Unfortunately, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure is severely lacking throughout many parts of the U.S. A continued emphasis on car-centric road designs has likely contributed to the increase in traffic deaths.

In fact, this may be one of the reasons that, contrary to what some believe, most Americans are safest living in large cities. In cities with pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and walkable neighborhoods, the average American is much less likely to be harmed in a motor vehicle crash. Researchers have even found that the country’s increase in fatal motor vehicle wrecks is especially pronounced in parts of the country where the population has risen but pedestrian-friendly infrastructure has not been built up to support the growing population.

In cities with pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and walkable neighborhoods, the average American is much less likely to be harmed in a motor vehicle crash.

Cannabis Legalization May be An Issue

Cannabis legalization and decriminalization has certainly yielded positive effects in many parts of the country. However, cannabis is still an intoxicating substance that can negatively affect one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Experts agree that increased consumption of cannabis has played a role in the rise in motor vehicle wrecks throughout the U.S.

One problem is the lack of standardized field sobriety tests for cannabis. Because it can be difficult for law enforcement to determine if a motorist is operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis, it may be a challenge to guard against wrecks resulting from cannabis usage.

The Pandemic Played a Role

Research shows that those who did drive during the pandemic were often more likely than usual to engage in dangerous behaviors on the road. Because roads were emptier, they may have felt safer driving recklessly. Perhaps they didn’t abandon these behaviors when traffic returned to normal levels.

In addition, many motorists didn’t drive much at all during lockdowns. Upon returning to the road, their driving skills may not have been as strong as they once were.

How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Motor Vehicle Wreck Case

You can take many steps to limit your chances of causing a motor vehicle collision. However, it’s still possible to be hurt in a wreck someone else causes.

Have you been hurt in a Massachusetts motor vehicle crash? If so, you’re likely eligible for compensation. How you may go about pursuing it can depend on such factors as the severity of your injuries, the cause of the wreck, and more.

At Swartz & Swartz, P.C., a Boston car accident lawyer can review your case and provide the representation you deserve right now. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at (617) 742-1900 for a free case review.

Need Help?

If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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About the Author: James Swartz
Mr. Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.

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