Traffic deaths rise across Alabama, the nation

Alabama roadway collisions claimed the lives of more than 650 people in 2016, and authorities believe many of those deaths were largely preventable. According to NBC 12, the state saw 139 more traffic fatalities by sometime in December than it had throughout the entire year prior, and authorities expected those numbers to rise, despite an increased police presence, given the holiday season.

Noting that driving under the influence was a factor in 40 percent of those traffic deaths, a state law enforcement official said that the department makes a point to refer to driver error-caused crashes as "collisions," rather than "accidents." He noted that failing to obey defensive driving laws and maintain patience behind the wheel were also likely contributors to the growing number of traffic deaths.

In addition to the rising number of traffic deaths in Alabama, the Anniston Star reports that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency saw an increase in every type of state crash statistic they track. It does not appear to be a problem specific to the state, however, with the entire nation seeing a 7 percent rise in traffic deaths in 2015.

The nation’s biggest traffic-death jump in almost 50 years may be attributed, in part, to the rise in distracted driving behaviors, such as cellphone usage behind the wheel. A representative from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of safety, health and consumer groups, outlined another possible contributor: lower gas prices, meaning more people have been taking to the roadways than in years prior. 

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