A report released by the National Safety Council revealed that Oklahoma was one of only 14 states that showed a decrease in road deaths during the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. A decrease was also observed in the District of Columbia. However, figures for the country as a whole showed that fatalities were up by 14 percent and serious injuries by 30 percent.
The nonprofit organization put the increase in injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roads down to lower unemployment, an improving economy and cheaper gas prices. Higher employment figures lead to more commuters on the roads while falling energy prices and economic growth allow more Americans to take family vacations. The NSC report also highlights an increase in reckless behavior such as distracted driving and speeding.
The NSC findings may not come as a surprise to road safety advocates as the link between accident rates and economic performance has been documented before. Traffic fatalities were close to 44,000 in 2007, but they fell to below 40,000 per year between 2008 and 2014 as the financial crisis prompted a surge in unemployment and ushered in a period of economic uncertainty.
An increase of motorists who send or read text messages while behind the wheel was singled out by the NSC as a particularly dangerous trend. Distracted driving accidents often occur at high speeds and cause debilitating injuries, but motorists are rarely eager to admit that they were behaving recklessly prior to being involved in a collision. Personal injury attorneys pursuing litigation on behalf of accident victims may scrutinize police reports and witness statements for evidence of negligent behavior. They may also request cellphone records or have the vehicles involved mechanically inspected.