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How The Economy Affects Auto Accident-Related Fatalities

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Jeff Sevey

Unfortunately, car accidents in the United States are quite common, and the number of fatal accidents specifically has increased in recent years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2016, there were 37,461 lives lost on roadways. This number was up from the previous year by 5.6%, which amounts to 1.18 lives lost per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 2.6% increase from 2015.

Although numerous factors contribute to accidents, data from the NHTSA shows that the causes of accidents resulting in fatalities have shifted. While accident fatalities caused by distracted and drowsy driving have decreased, accidental deaths caused by drunk driving, speeding, and failure to wear a seat belt has increased.

By analyzing years of gathered data, researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also found that there is a correlation between driver death rates and economic growth. This is so in part because economic prosperity changes people’s behaviors and driving patterns. NHTSA estimates that 94% of serious accidents are linked to poor decision making on the part of the drivers involved.

While someone else’s poor decision-making might have caused you harm, it is critical that you make good choices after an accident. If you’ve been hurt or if you’ve lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s recklessness, it is essential to choose a law firm that has successfully handled cases just like yours. There is a reason why so many people in Northern California have hired The Sevey Law Firm to handle their car accident and wrongful death claims. Find out why we are the right choice for you by calling us at (916) 788-7100 to schedule a free consultation today.

Accident Fatalities and Economic Growth

Contrary to what many believe, auto accidents are more prevalent when the economy is stronger. Death rates from car accidents had been trending down for the few decades leading into the millennium, but in 2015 those statistics started to change. Research by the IIHS shows that with economic strength and growth, accident rates increase for a few different reasons, including:

  • There are more cars on the roadways as people commute to and from work
  • With more work and therefore more spending money, people take more vacations and frequent weekend trips
  • When the economy is better, people tend to socialize and eat out more. This not only results in more motorists being on roadways, but also an increase in drinking and driving
  • Motorists tend to speed more when the economy is better

It makes sense that as the number of miles traveled by vehicles increase, accidents also occur with higher frequency. This is corroborated by data from the NHTSA which found that in 2016 when accident fatalities increased, the number of vehicles traveling on U.S. roadways also increased by 2.2%. Additional data analyzed by researchers at the IIHS shows that when there is a 1% decrease in unemployment rates, there is a 2% increase in vehicle miles traveled.

The researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety researchers have been collecting data since the 1990s, and they can create a predictive model based on the decades of information collected. If job growth continues into 2024, as expected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, then traffic accident death rates will continue to increase. Depending on whether predictions of economic growth are accurate, and if so, to what degree the economy will continue to get stronger, estimates for accident fatalities annually range roughly between 32,750 and 34,400 deaths. Although this number is higher than it was in the 1990s and early 2000s, researchers believe that even with economic growth traffic-related fatalities have already hit their peak in 2015 with 35,092 deaths.

Factors That Can Help Decrease the Number of Fatal Accidents

Other factors that contribute to whether an accident is fatal can include:

  • The make and model of the vehicles involved in the crash
  • The year the vehicle was made

Data shows that fatalities are more frequent in older cars and in smaller vehicles. This is because older model cars lack modern safety technology that newer models have. Smaller vehicles tend to lack some of the structure, power, and safety features that larger vehicles have. In 2104, accident-related deaths were most common in four-door sedans and least common in large luxury sports utility vehicles.

While economic growth has been shown to correspond to an increase in the number of fatal accidents, economic growth may also correlate to people buying newer cars with better safety technology.

Being in an accident, whether a fatality occurs or not, is a traumatic experience that often forces the victims to deal with lasting physical and financial consequences.

Help is Available for Accident Victims

After a severe injury accident, victims and their families often do not know where to turn for help. If you are struggling to pay your medical bills, repair your vehicle, or support your family, help is available to you. If you lost a loved one in a fatal crash, the wrongful death attorneys at The Sevey Law Firm can help you get the justice you deserve.

For years, we have worked hard on behalf of residents of Roseville, Sacramento, and across Northern California. We strive to provide knowledgeable, compassionate legal counsel to those whose lives have been impacted by a car crash. We firmly believe that no one should have to suffer due to someone else’s careless or negligent actions, and we’re ready to fight for what you are owed.

Our consultation is 100% free and completely confidential, so call us at (916) 788-7100 or fill out a contact form to speak with a knowledgeable member of our team right away. We work on a contingency-fee-basis, which means that you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case. Don’t wait until it is too late to get what you are owed. Our team is standing by, ready to listen to you and get you the help you need.

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