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The trends related to motor vehicle accident fatalities

Back in 1900 when there were only 76 million people in the United States, there were 36 deaths related to motor vehicle accidents. Of course, there were barely any vehicles out on the roads back then anyway -- but it is an amazing statistic that shows just how far we have come in more than a century.

In 2016, the U.S. population was at about 323 million, and there were 37,461 fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents. This is considered a remarkable success given the history of fatal motor vehicle accidents. Consider the period from 1963 to 1991. During this nearly three-decade period of time, there were always more than 40,000 fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents. And many years, the number was above 50,000.

In 1992, the number fell below 40,000 deaths, only to rise back above that threshold for another 15 years. It was in 2008 that the current era of relatively incredible safety was ushered in. Starting with that year, the number of fatalities related to motor vehicle accidents hasn't eclipsed 37,461 -- the most recent for data, 2016.

This raises an interesting question. Though fatalities are down in relative terms, the last two years of data show that accidents are on the rise, and in a significant way, when compared to the early 2010s. There are many reasons why this could be happening. It is possible that the early 2010s were "too safe," and the statistic is regressing to the mean. Or maybe the rise of cell phones and the dangerous behavior of distracted driving has led to the recent increase in deaths. No matter the cause, these accidents are still happening and the victims and their loved ones need legal help for their cases.

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