Sunday, October 11, 2009

Motor Vehicle Accident Fatalities Down 7% in First Half of 2009

According to a recently released study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic-related fatalities were down 7% in first half of 2009 (Jan. to June) when compared to the first half of 2008. According to the study there were an estimated 17,871 such fatalities in 2008. So far in 2009, there has been an estimated 16,626 such accidents involving motor vehicles.

The study cites increased vehicle safety along with the Recesssion that has led to people traveling less as factors influencing the decrease. Surely, the recent high gas prices, nearly hitting $4.00 a gallon, led many people to stay off the road. For more info on this study, you can go to http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811207.PDF.

The NHTSA also reported that seat belt use is up from 83% in 2008 to 84% in 2009. For that report, see http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811100.PDF.

Obviously, these factors may all have an impact on the number of motor vehicle accident claims presented as well as the number of cases that may ever eventually get into litigation. Arguably, the across the board increase in seat belt use may also provide further support for those in favor of a repeal against the ban against the seat belt defense in civil litigation matters. The seat belt defense asserts that the plaintiff may have contributed to their own injuries by not wearing a seat belt, or raises the alternative argument that the injuries would have been less if the seat belt had been worn.

The ban against the seat belt defense in Pennsylvania was originally passed about 20 years ago when a large majority of people did not use seat belts on a regular basis and were, therefore, a large number of injured parties would have been exposed to the possibility of a seat belt defense if they were ever injured in a motor vehicle accident. According to the above report on seat belt use, there is only a slight minority who would be affected by the seat belt defense in this day and age.

What better way is there to convince the last remaining holdouts to wear their seat belts than to let them know that if they do not take the simple act of applying a seat belt (click!) when they get into a vehicle like the rest of the law-abiding society, it may impact their ability to secure a monetary recovery if they are injured in a motor vehicle accident.

Just a thought. Any comments? If so, click on the "comments" link just below this blog entry. Thanks.

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