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Report: Indiana Lags Behind Other States on Road Safety

Rainy Day Rush Hour Traffic Congestion

Fort Wayne car accident attorneys break down the study and explain what drivers need to know

Car accident fatalities continue to get worse nationwide. And according to a recent traffic safety study, part of the problem has to do with state traffic laws. Many states need to make improvements to their traffic laws—including Indiana.

“It’s really a call to action for state elected officials to see what their states are missing and to introduce legislation to make changes,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Chase was interviewed by Fox 59 News in Indianapolis.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety conducted the nationwide traffic study. Called “Out of Control: 2022 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws,” the study includes car accident data nationwide for the first six months of 2021. The study also compared traffic laws for each state. Indiana received a “yellow” or “fair” grade.

“This report is essential so that state elected officials know what can be done,” Chase said. “They can pick up this report, they can look and see what’s happening in their states, and they can see what’s missing.”

Crash fatalities increase nationwide

Despite fewer drivers on the road in 2020, car accident fatalities increased dramatically that year. In fact, motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 reached the highest figure in more than a decade, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2020, a total of 38,680 people died nationwide in motor vehicle traffic crashes, the most since 2007. The 2020 figures represent a 7.2 percent increase compared to 2019 when 36,096 people were killed in car accidents.

So what happened in 2021? Nationwide, this deadly trend continued. According to the “Out of Control” study, car accident fatalities in the first half of last year increased by 20 percent compared to the same time period in 2020.

This increase represents “the highest six-month increase ever recorded in the history” of federal car accident data. The report added, “This is a major public health epidemic, and lawmakers can and must do more to ensure safe roads for everyone.”

Fatal car accidents in Indiana

Indiana motor vehicle fatality statistics are not yet available for 2021. But the year before, car accident fatalities increased in 2020, even though there were fewer drivers on the road. According to the NHTSA, there were 813 motor vehicle deaths in Indiana in 2020, an increase of four deaths compared to 2019, when 809 people died in Indiana motor vehicle accidents.

However, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 888 people died in car accidents in 2020. The NSC has higher figures because the non-profit organization counts traffic deaths that occur in driveways, parking lots, and deaths that occur up to a year after an accident.

Meanwhile, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety study also includes an estimate for the annual financial impact of motor vehicle accidents on each state. In Indiana, car accidents cost the state $7.696 billion each year. That figure includes estimates for medical care, lost income, and vehicle damage.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety listed several contributing factors for the continued rise in car accident fatalities last year. Such factors include:

  • Impaired drivers – Drunk drivers or drivers under the influence of other substances cause more than 10,000 car accident fatalities every year.
  • Not wearing seatbelts – Unrestrained drivers and passengers account for nearly half of all motor vehicle fatalities.
  • Younger drivers – Drivers under the age of 20 cause crashes that kill more than 4,500 people each year.
  • Driver distraction – Texting drivers and drivers who don’t pay attention cause motor vehicle accidents that result in more than 3,000 deaths each year.

Indiana receives ‘fair’ grade for traffic laws

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety reviewed and graded each state’s traffic laws as part of its study. Indiana was one of 31 states to review a “yellow” or “fair” grade. Indiana received that grade because the state does not have certain, common traffic laws. These laws include:

  • All rider motorcycle helmet law (only motorcycle riders under 18 must wear a helmet in Indiana)
  • Rear-facing through age 2 child safety seat law
  • Booster seat law
  • Minimum age 16 for learner’s permit
  • Nighttime driving restrictions for teen drivers
  • Age 18 unrestricted driver’s license law
  • All drunk driver offender ignition interlock requirement

Get a proven fighter in your corner

Having an attorney on your side after you've been injured in an accident can often make a big difference in the outcome of your case. Don’t be surprised if the at-fault driver’s insurance company downplays or denies your injury claim. They often do this because there can be a lot of money at stake, and insurance companies only care about protecting their bottom line.

Take a stand. Talk to an experienced Fort Wayne car accident lawyer at Boughter Sinak, LLC. We won't let the insurance company push you around, and we will aggressively advocate for the compensation you're entitled to. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We have two offices conveniently located in Fort Wayne and South Bend, and we handle cases throughout Indiana.

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