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Car accident fatality rates rise for second straight year

Missouri residents may drive cars that either drive themselves in certain situations or come with modern safety features. Despite that, fatal car crashes increased in the United States for the second straight year in 2016. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a 5.6 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.

Overall, there were 37,461 deaths on American roads, the highest total in nine years, and an increase in motorcycle deaths was a key reason. Failure to wear safety belts as well as a tendency for drivers to speed were also cited as key reasons for the increase over the past two years. However, deaths attributed to distracted driving were actually down 2.2 percent from 2015 to 3,450 according to NHTSA data. In 2016, there was a 4 percent increase in deaths attributed to speeding.

There was also a 4.6 percent increase in deaths attributed to a lack of seat belt use. Motorcycle deaths increased by 5.1 percent. Although fatal crashes have increased over the past two years, they had been declining. Between 2007 and 2014, fatalities decreased in six out of those seven years, and there was a record low number of fatalities in 2014. That year, 32,744 people were killed in motor vehicle or motorcycle crashes.

Drivers who are drunk, distracted or otherwise negligent in causing a car crash may be liable for the damages incurred by their victims. Those who are hurt in a car accident may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Lost earnings may also be included in a settlement or jury award. If a driver was using an employer's vehicle when a crash occurred, the employer may also be liable for damages.

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