A 'perfect storm' of risks is making 2015 a dangerous year to drive

Distracted driving, cheap gas, and lower unemployment are all contributing to an increase in fatal traffic accidents.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the first six months of 2015 showed an approximately 8.1 percent increase in traffic fatalities over the same time period in 2014. And in Virginia, traffic deaths are up four percent from 2014, with 521 people having died on Virginia roads in 2015 through September, according to Newsplex. In Virginia, deaths from traffic accidents are also up from 2014 numbers. The death toll on the nation's and Virginia's roadways is a cause for concern, but pinning the increase on any single cause is proving difficult.

What's behind the increase?

Reducing the increased number of fatal accidents to a single cause is proving elusive, with many explanations, including cheaper gas and an improving economy, cited as possible factors. The summer months also tend to be a particularly dangerous time to drive in any year, with fatigued and intoxicated drivers especially present during long weekends. This year, however, summer driving may be all the more dangerous with cheap gas making it more feasible for more people to take longer road trips.

Safety experts are also pointing to the broader problem of distracted driving, especially among teen drivers who are three times more likely to have an accident compared with experienced drivers. Texting is a well-known culprit in distracted driving crashes, but what often gets overlooked in the distracted driving debate is the fact that other distractions can also be risky for young drivers. The National Safety Council, for example, claims that having one additional passenger under the age of 21 in a vehicle increases the risk of a teenage driver being involved in an accident by 44 percent. Having additional passengers under the age of 21 continues to increase the risk, with two passengers under the age of 21 doubling the risk and three or more quadrupling the risk.

Legal assistance

A car accident is one of the most common and frightening experiences that many people will ever go through. Many such accidents are caused by dangerous or reckless driving, and in the most serious cases innocent victims can find themselves seriously injured. A serious injury may prevent them from returning to work and can leave them with prohibitively high medical bills. High expenses are just one of the reasons a personal injury attorney should be contacted as soon after an accident as possible. In the chaos and confusion that often follows a wreck, an experienced attorney can provide injured victims with the clarity and guidance they need to understand what steps they can take in the months to come.