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Lower gas prices linked to higher accident fatality rates

California motorists pay more at the pump than drivers in most other states, but a 30 percent fall in gas prices between July 2014 and June 2015 was a major reason that traffic accident fatalities in the Golden State surged by 20 percent during the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period in 2014. A report from the nonprofit National Safety Council reveals that accident fatalities and injuries across the country were up sharply in the first six months of 2015, and falling energy costs combined with an improving economy are seen as the factors most influencing these increases.

The NSC research indicates that far more drivers take to the nation's roads when they have jobs and money in their pockets, and the increased traffic levels observed during the first six months of 2015 were made up of both vacationers and commuters. Traffic levels fall when the economy is struggling. Car accident fatalities neared 44,000 prior to the 2008 financial crisis, but they fell to less than 40,000 annually between 2008 and 2014.

The report shows that 1,566 people lost their lives in car accidents on California's roads between January and June 2015, which is 20 percent more than the 1,302 who died during the same period in 2014. This increase is also significantly higher than the 14 percent increase observed by the NSC across the country as a whole.

Research has found that the vast majority of traffic accidents involve some sort of human error, and the increased death toll noticed by the NSC was likely largely the result of motorists who were distracted, driving under the influence or speeding. Those injured in these types of car accidents often suffer life-changing injuries, and personal injury attorneys may seek compensation for them by filing lawsuits on their behalf against the at-fault motorists.

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