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Car accident statistics do not include all fatal accidents

Commonly available car accident statistics are not as accurate as we thought. Indeed, most car accident data for New Jersey and the rest of the United States only includes accidents that happened on our nation's roads. In other words, if a driver runs over and kills a person or child in his or her driveway, the death will not be included in national car accident data. Still, information and statistics are available on such accidents, and it is unsettling.

Four out of every 100 driveway back-over accidents are fatal. These kinds of accidents happen often, but the commonly referenced National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics do not include them. In 2012, the NHTSA reported that 33,561 Americans were killed in roadway car accidents. In 2011, it was 32,479. Sadly, these statistics do not include many pedestrian and cyclist deaths, and they neglect to include many child pedestrian deaths.

NHTSA puts car accident fatalities in a different category that it calls Not-in-Traffic Surveillance figures. Most of these crashes involved a single vehicle on a private road, a two-car accident in a parking lot or pedestrians in driveways. The NHTSA even keeps statistics involving non-crash car accidents -- like someone dying from unintentional carbon monoxide inhalation or someone getting pinned under a falling vehicle.

NHTSA Not-in-Traffic Surveillance figures show that 6,483 additional people died in non-traffic car accidents on top of the figures above. Sadly, 13 percent of these victims were under the age of 5, and close to half of these died as a result of a driveway pedestrian incident. These figures are important for New Jersey drivers to be aware of because they highlight the dangers of distracted driving in neighborhoods, especially when young children are nearby.

The loss of a loved one in a car accident, whether it is traffic related or happens out of traffic, is a tragedy that no one should ever have to face. While the decision to file a wrongful death lawsuit in such cases is a personal one, sometimes it is also an economic one. Indeed, relatives of victims can use a wrongful death lawsuit to seek restitution to pay for funeral and memorial services. Family members may also be able to obtain financial assistance to cover the loss of family income from a spouse, parent or other contributor to a family's living expenditures.

Source: usa.streetsblog.org, "The Death Toll From Cars Is Even Higher Than You Thought", Tanya Snyder, April 21, 2014

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