Car Accident Fatalities on Decline, Reports NHTSA

Scene of car accidentThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary data in late December that shows a decline in motor vehicle accident deaths for the first nine months of 2019. From January to September 2019, an estimated 26,730 fatalities occurred in U.S. auto accidents, compared to 27,335 fatalities during the same January to September period of 2018. A 2.2% deduction in motor vehicle fatalities is reflected, despite vehicle miles traveled during this period having increased by 1%. As an experienced car accident lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian hopes to see the downward trend continue into 2020; all-inclusive motor vehicle traffic fatality statistics for 2019, including the last three months, will be released sometime in 2020.

How are the Statistics Compiled?

The NHTSA compiles motor vehicle traffic fatality statistics using police crash reports, among other sources. One source, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), is a census of fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. (the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico). For a crash to be involved in FARS, it must involve a motor vehicle accident traveling on a traffic way and the resulting death of at least one person (vehicle occupant or nonoccupant) within 30 days of the crash.

Contributing Factors to Fatal Accidents

As with the majority of vehicle crashes that we see as car accident attorneys in Providence, Rhode Island, key contributing factors to fatal car accidents include speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, and drug-impaired driving. It is too soon to pinpoint the chief causes of fatal crashes for 2019, however, based on past years’ data and our experience with auto accidents at Tapalian Law, influences are likely very similar.

  • Speeding

    – Over 9,000 car accident fatalities were contributed to speeding in 2018.

    • Driving more than 15mph over the speed limit is considered a type of aggressive driving.
    • Aggressive driving, any unsafe driving behavior performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety, includes speeding, tailgating, erratic lane changes, and illegal passing. Involved in over ½ of all fatal crashes, driving aggressively can quickly escalate to road rage, a violent criminal act.
  • Distractions-

    In 2017, over 3,000 fatalities were attributed to distracted driving.

    • Distracted driving includes any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the road. Talking or texting on a cell phone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers in the car, and using a navigation system while operating a vehicle are all examples of distracted driving. As a car accident lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian sees clients on a daily basis who suffer serious injuries caused by collisions with distracted drivers.
    • RI State Law prohibits the use of a hand-held device for talking or texting while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Drunk Driving-

    In 2018, 29% of motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. were caused by an alcohol- impaired driver.

    • Close to 30 people die each day in the U.S. in drunk-driving crashes.
    • Alcohol impairs all functions necessary for operating a vehicle including brain function, thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination.
    • By RI State Law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or above.
  • Drug Impaired Driving-

    Driving under the influence of any potentially impairing substance is illegal.

    • Drug use can impair the ability to drive by slowing coordination, judgement, and reaction time. Even legally prescribed medications and over the counter (OTC) medicines can cause excessive drowsiness, dizziness, and other side effects that negatively impact a driver’s capabilities.

Contact Providence RI Car Accident Lawyer David Tapalian

At Tapalian Law, our personal injury law firm helps victims of car accidents all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts, whether the crash is caused by a drunk driver, distracted driver, or a speeding vehicle. We help hurt people with minor and major injuries seek compensation for their medical expenses, physical therapy, lost wages, auto repair costs, pain and suffering and other costs related to the car accident. It is imperative to seek professional legal advice as soon as possible after you are hurt to protect your legal rights and file a personal injury claim within Rhode Island’s three-year statute of limitations. If you have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident in RI or MA, experienced car accident lawyer David Tapalian can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of eligible family members against the person responsible for your loved ones death. We offer a free, no obligations, consultation to discuss your car accident or other type of personal injury case. With offices in Providence, Warwick, and Seekonk, MA, Attorney Tapalian is available to meet with you at your convenience, including evenings and weekends. Call our Providence car accident law firm at


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