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Traffic deaths rise for the first time in years

Motorists who routinely travel West Virginia's iconic mountain highways may be dismayed to learn that in the first nine months of 2015, U.S. traffic deaths rose after numerous years of improvement. While the number of fatal accidents had dropped a total of 22 percent from 2000 to 2014 and decreased 1.4 percent in 2014 from the prior year, 2015 saw a significant reversal in the trend. In the first nine months of the year, approximately 26,000 people perished in wrecks, which represented an increase of 9.3 percent compared to the number of deaths during the same time frame in 2013.

The statistics were compiled in a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency noted that while locales like the Southeast and the Northwest experienced fatality increases of 16 and 20 percent, respectively, traffic accident deaths only rose by 2 percent in the South Central and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.

The NHTSA administrator suggested that the solution to the unsettling fatality trend might be to begin new safety programs. He highlighted problems like drunk driving and lack of seat belts as potentially contributing factors, and the NHTSA has planned numerous conferences designed to research relevant regional issues.

Drunk drivers who cause auto accidents may face criminal charges, but even if they are not convicted, a personal injury lawsuit filed by an injured victim with the assistance of an attorney may still be successful. This is because the burden of proof on the plaintiff in such a civil action is less onerous than that borne by the prosecution in a criminal trial.

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