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Analysis: Serious traffic wrecks down in 2017, still quite high

Preliminary data from the first half of 2017 indicates that traffic injuries and fatalities were down slightly over last year, although they're still substantially higher than they were at this time in 2015. Deaths from motor vehicle accidents started to spike in 2014, and 2016's total represented the steepest two-year increase in traffic fatalities since 1964, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council.

According to the safety organization, there were approximately 18,680 traffic deaths in the U.S. in the first half of 2017, which ended on June 30. That's about 1 percent fewer than in the first half of 2016. The first half of this year also saw an estimated 2.1 million serious injuries in traffic accidents. The council estimates the financial costs of those losses at about $191 billion -- and that doesn't count the human cost.

"The price of our cultural complacency is more than a hundred fatalities each day," said the NSC's President and CEO. "Although the numbers may be leveling off, the Road to Zero deaths will require accelerating improvements in technology, engaging drivers and investing in our infrastructure."

Unfortunately, the second half of the year is statistically more dangerous than the first half, according to the group, which has been tracking injury and fatality trends for nearly 100 years.

At the end of 2016, the group estimated that some 40,000 people were killed on U.S. roadways. That increase was 6 percent over 2015 numbers and was the steepest increase in 53 years. Although the first half of 2017 showed about a 1-percent drop over the same period last year, it's still 8 percent higher than the first half of 2015.

The group points to a 1.7-percent increase in miles driven by the average American as the main factor contributing to the high fatality rates over the past few years. This is likely due to an improving economy and lower gas prices.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, statistics probably don't help very much. We know we all need to do more to stay safe on the road, such as by avoiding distraction and never using alcohol or drugs before driving. If you have experienced a tragedy, however, what you need is help -- and answers. A personal injury attorney can assist you with both.

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