Rise in California traffic deaths well exceeds national average

Traffic deaths in California are surging and are well ahead of average increases seen nationwide.

Traffic fatalities are climbing all over the country, fueled by both a recovering economy and distracted driving. However, as KPCC News reports, in California the increase in fatal car accidents has been particularly alarming and well exceeds national increases. Safety experts are struggling to explain why fatal crashes are rising so rapidly in California in particular, but they have a number of suggestions for how to stop the deadly increase.

Traffic deaths are soaring

Nationwide traffic deaths rose by six percent in 2016 and by 14 percent over the past two years. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, that is the steepest two-year increase in traffic deaths the United States has seen since 1964. However, those increases pale in comparison to California's. The Golden State saw traffic deaths in 2016 surge by 14 percent and by 19 percent over the past two years.

While California did not actually see the steepest increase in traffic deaths percentage wise - that dubious distinction goes to New Mexico which saw a 34 percent increase in 2016 - it did lead in absolute numbers. In 2016, a total of 3,680 people died in traffic accidents in California, up substantially from the 3,249 killed a year earlier and the 3,084 killed in 2014.

Economy and texting to blame

While many analysts point out that an improving economy means that drivers are on the road more, it is important to note that the fatality rate is increasing much faster than the number of miles driven. Rather, safety experts suggest that the surge in traffic deaths is being caused more by distracted driving than by the economic recovery. A survey done in conjunction with the report found that 47 percent of drivers claim they are able to drive safely while either texting manually or through voice controls.

The National Safety Council, the group that compiled the above figures, says that states need to be particularly aggressive in combating traffic accidents. Among the measures the group would like to see adopted are a complete ban on any cellphone use while driving, speed enforcement cameras, and automated safety technology in vehicles, such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warnings, and emergency braking.

Personal injury law

As traffic accidents continue to rise in California, it is important for those who have been hurt in a collision to get help as soon as possible. An accident can lead to a host of financial strains, including medical bills, time off work, and vehicle repairs. A personal injury attorney can help clients explore what options they may have for pursuing compensation that may be able to cover the cost of these and other types of expenses.