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After years of decline, traffic fatalities increase

Oklahoma drivers and their passengers may be more at risk on the road today than they were a year ago. Traffic fatalities, which fell more than 22 percent nationwide between 2000 and 2014, are on the rise again based on statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Figures are in for the first three quarters of 2015, and they show more than 26,000 fatalities around the country. Over the same time period in 2014, the number of traffic deaths was 23,796, and it represented a 1.2 percent drop from the previous year.

The increase is more significant in some regions than others. The South Central states and the mid-Atlantic saw only a 2 percent increase while the rate in the Northwest jumped 20 percent.

The NHTSA says that it does not intend to wait before it acts. It has already convened regional summits to examine the issue and plans to address behaviors such as failing to wear seat belts and drunk driving. The agency says its research has found that 94 percent of accidents happen because of human factors.

Car accidents that lead to serious injuries can be life-changing whether the damage to a person is just physical or psychological as well. Brain injuries and other long-term or permanent injuries make it impossible for victims to return to their previous employment. It might be necessary for a family member to become a caregiver or to hire outside help. In many cases, the insurance company of the driver responsible for such an accident may offer very little compensation. It accordingly may be advisable for such a victim to have legal assistance in pursuing damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

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