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Economy plays role in New Jersey traffic fatality rates

When unemployment goes down, deaths in motor vehicle accidents go up. Number crunching at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that an improving economy leads to more discretionary driving, such as going to restaurants or taking vacations. This type of travel appears to expose people to more risks than day-to-day commuting because people tend to drive faster when the economy is better for some reason.

The institute calculated that a drop in unemployment from 6 percent to 5 percent corresponds with a 2 percent rise in the amount of miles traveled in vehicles. With people spending more time on the road, they have a greater chance of getting in a wreck. Statistically, the increase in vehicle miles creates a 2 percent rise in traffic fatalities.

Experts have blamed the sharp rise in traffic deaths in recent years at least partially on improvements in economic conditions. The number of people dying in crashes jumped 7 percent between 2014 and 2015. The vice president of IIHS said that the emergence of crash avoidance technologies and the potential of autonomous vehicles could lead to safer travel in future decades. Although technology could someday reduce the death rate on roads, he emphasized that old issues like speeding and driver intoxication could not be ignored.

When people cause car accidents because of drinking, texting or speeding, they could be held financially responsible for the injuries incurred by occupants of other vehicles. An attorney could help injured victims seek compensation through negotiating a settlement with the insurer of the at-fault driver. If the amount offered is inadequate, the attorney could proceed with filing a lawsuit against that motorist.

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