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Traffic deaths escalate nationally, and in Alabama, during 2015

When statistics from Alabama automobile crashes are gathered each year, it allows researchers to analyze the causes so that more deaths can be prevented. According to Alabama Public Radio, the official numbers for traffic fatalities in the nation rose in 2015, leading many to ask what is responsible for the increase. Despite considerable media attention being devoted to tire recalls and related automotive issues, 94 percent of all crashes can be attributed to human error.

While factors such as not wearing a seat belt, speeding or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol have contributed to traffic deaths for decades, other issues have become more problematic in recent years. The increasing availability of in-vehicle technology systems is a likely contributor to the 7.2 percent nationwide spike in automotive fatalities, and other environmental and societal changes are also possible factors. The rebounding economy meant more people were finding work and commuting to and from their places of business, and lower gas prices meant more time on the roadways for many Americans.

What can Alabamans do, then, to minimize their chances of being a victim of a traffic-related fatality? Per NHTSA, more than half of Alabama's traffic fatalities can be attributed to two factors: alcohol impairment and speed. Of the 849 traffic fatalities on state roadways in 2015, speed or alcohol proved to be factors in 483 of them, driving home the importance of abstaining from alcohol and obeying the speed limit while behind the wheel. Experts estimate that wearing a seatbelt may have saved as many as 50 of those who were killed in motor vehicle crashes.

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