We hear a lot about smart cars and self-driving cars. More vehicles are equipped with safety technology to avoid crashes. It’s, therefore, puzzling that at a time when cars are getting safer traffic fatalities rose in 2016.

Figures released in October by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that the number of traffic deaths in 2016 rose nearly 6 percent compared with the previous year to 37,461.

The figures, noted CNN, may be skewed by the improving economy. A combination of cheaper gas and better job prospects means Americans are driving further. In 2016, Americans drove 2.2 percent more miles than the previous year.

The number of deaths per mile driven rose by 2.6 percent. CNN noted the figure is the highest rate since 2008. However, fatal accidents on the highways of America remain well below the levels of even 10 years ago, the agency said. It’s concerning that traffic fatalities rose, although it may reflect the improving economy.

traffic fatalities rose

Traffic fatalities rose in 2016

The official statistics contained some surprises. Spikes in recent deaths were thought to be linked to distracted driving but deaths related to distractions fell by 2.2 percent.

Drivers falling asleep at the wheel also decreased as a cause of fatal accidents.

But some of the longstanding problems are being exacerbated. Drunk driving fatalities rose 1.7 percent to 10,497. While drunk driving fatalities are nothing like 20 years ago, they account for more than one out of every four traffic deaths.

The number of deaths attributable to speeding rose at a higher rate. Fatalities attributable to speeding rose 4 percent to 10,111. Fatalities attributed to not wearing a seat belt increased by 4.6 percent.

Older drivers remain a cause for concern. The NHTSA noted an 8.2 percent jump in the number of fatal accidents involving drivers aged 65 and older.

The figure is statistically relevant. As the baby boomer generation gets older, the size of the older demographic continues to increase steadily. The number of 65-plus motorists rose about 30 percent in the last 10 years.

Deaths involving pedestrians also rose. Atlanta and other parts of Georgia have a longstanding image of being unfriendly to walkers.

Atlanta has sought to cast off this reputation in recent years but it lingers. If you have lost a loved one on the roads of Georgia or been injured, you should consider calling our Georgia personal injury attorney at (404) 913-1529.