New Mexico residents should know that despite advances in safety technology, car accident rates are still at an all-time high. According to preliminary figures from the National Safety Council, the U.S. may soon be recording more than 40,000 car crash fatalities for the third year in a row. However, it appears that a plateau effect has been achieved compared to the sharp increases seen in the previous two years.

According to the NSC, 18,720 people died on America’s roads between January and June of 2018. This figure represents 50 fewer deaths than the first six months of 2017. Experts say that several factors contribute to the high numbers, particularly negligent or reckless behaviors like distracted driving, speeding, seat belt neglect and drug- and alcohol-impaired driving.

Cheaper gas prices and a growing economy have also led to an increase in the number of miles that vehicles travel every year. This was another factor in the spike in roadway and highway deaths. However, the numbers are not as high as they were in the early 2000’s.

New safety technology, like lane departure warning systems and automatic braking, is becoming more widely available on newer vehicles. Rearview cameras are now mandatory on all new U.S. vehicles. However, these improvements may take years to trickle down to the average vehicle owner.

The good news, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is that fewer people are texting and driving. However, many auto accidents still occur because people cannot break away from their phones. In such cases, victims may be able to file an injury claim and be compensated for their medical expenses, vehicle repair costs and other losses. A lawyer could hire investigators to obtain a copy of the police report as well as the defendant’s phone records. With an attorney’s assistance, victims can proceed to negotiations and litigate if a settlement is not reached.