As the economy improves, drivers in Virginia and across the United States are facing a more dangerous time on the roads. Driver deaths in collisions have escalated, with a healthier economy leading to more people driving more frequently and more dangerously.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that the rate of driver deaths for 2014 model year cars and other passenger vehicles is 30 per million. This is an increase from 28 per million for 2011 vehicles. These figures represent an overall look at all cars as the rates for individual cars and small trucks can vary widely.
The increase in driver death rates come at the same time as safety improvements and vehicle technologies are causing cars to become safer than ever in many ways. At the same time, broader social factors play a significant role in the frequency and outcome of car crashes. The IIHS noted that there was a major drop in driver deaths in 2008, coinciding with the mortgage and financial crisis that shook the American economy.
As the unemployment rate falls, more people drive for discretionary reasons like going on vacation, out to eat or to social events. An improved economy is also strongly correlated with faster and more risky driving behaviors. While increased driving generally accounts for some of the enlarged risks on the road during economic recovery, every 1 percent drop in the unemployment rate is associated with an additional 2 percent increase in deaths on the road.
Whatever the economic context, roadway crashes can be devastating to drivers and passengers injured because of another’s negligence or recklessness. Victims can suffer severe personal injuries in auto accidents.
Those who have been injured in a car collision due to someone else’s distracted or dangerous driving can rack up medical bills and other damages despite mandatory car insurance. A personal injury lawyer can review their situation and help them seek compensation for the harm that has been done.