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Nine-year high in car crash deaths, says NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that 37,461 people died in car crashes across the U.S. in 2016, creating a nine-year high. Residents of Oklahoma and elsewhere are concerned that new safety technology, such as automatic emergency braking, rearview cameras and lane departure warning systems, are doing little to stem the increase of deaths.

The NHTSA has stated clearly that human choices are behind 94 percent of all serious crashes. The agency continues to work with state and city partners, as well as with law enforcement agencies, to find ways of encouraging good choices. In an effort to spur greater road safety, the federal government has been pushing for self-driving vehicles; the U.S. House even approved a measure in July that would grant special exemptions to the makers of such vehicles.

Driver mistakes that were especially common in 2016 include speeding, which caused 4 percent more fatalities, and riding without a seatbelt, which contributed to 4.6 percent more deaths. Drunk driving deaths rose by 1.7 percent while distracted driving deaths actually fell by 2.2 percent. However, smartphones and in-car technologies like touchscreen systems are a constant danger to the easily distracted. In all, the most significant jumps were in motorcycle deaths (5.1 percent) and pedestrian deaths (9 percent).

If a reckless driver injures a pedestrian or another motorist, the victim may wish to file a claim for damages. In the case of a wrongful death suit, a lawyer could hire investigators to gather the police reports and medical paperwork, interview any witnesses and recreate the car accident.