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2016 saw most motor vehicle accident deaths since 2007

It is easy to forget that there was once a time when the motor vehicle accident fatality rate was incredibly bad. It was not an uncommon sight to see the rate above 50,000 deaths per year from 1966 to 1980. For the most part, the rate stayed in the 40,000s, which by today's standards is an incredibly high number. Lawmakers and safety advocates would be enraged if the number was that high.

Since 2008, the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities has remained below 40,000. That year saw 37,423 people die in accidents, and then it plummeted down to 32,479 in 2011 -- marking the lowest number of fatalities in a year the modern era.

This all seems like a time for celebration, right? The accident rate is going down! What is there to be worried about?

Well, in the last two years, the accident fatality rate has suddenly gone way up again. It increased 10.5 percent in 2015 and 5.6 percent in 2016, finishing that year with 37,461 deaths. That's the highest rate since 2007. A decade of work has been undone in two years. So what happened?

Unfortunately, the answers aren't entirely clear, but there is certainly one culprit we can easily point to as a suspect: distracted driving. This is an insidious form of reckless driving that usually involves cell phones nowadays. Don't use your cell phone while you drive. It is dangerous and against the law.

Source: Wikipedia, "Motor vehicle fatality rate in U.S. by year," Accessed Feb. 22, 2018

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