Impaired driving leads to increase in D.C. traffic accidents

Serious traffic accidents are increasing across the Washington area, with impaired driving a leading cause.

A recently released report by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program shows that traffic accidents are increasing across the Washington area. As WTOP News reports, both injuries and fatalities are increasing at rates that far exceed population growth. The report points out that DUI-related accidents account for a quarter of traffic fatalities in the region. However, Washington is not alone in seeing traffic deaths increase, with most other states seeing significant upticks in serious accidents in recent years.

Traffic deaths increase locally and nationally

The report shows that 39,000 people died in traffic accidents across the Washington region in 2016 and that 245 people died. Traffic fatalities increased most rapidly in Northern Virginia, while they increased slightly in the District itself. Montgomery and Prince George's counties, meanwhile, saw declines in traffic fatalities.

The increase in serious traffic accidents is something that is being seen across the nation. As CNBC reports, recently released figures by the National Safety Council show that while U.S. traffic fatalities edged down very slightly in 2017, they remain near decade-high levels. Last year, the group estimates about 40,100 people died in traffic accidents, down just slightly from the 40,327 who were killed in 2016. Those statistics show the District of Columbia had a 15 percent increase in traffic fatalities between 2015 and 2017, the eighth-steepest increase in the country.

Impaired and distracted drivers to blame

In Washington, a big factor in serious traffic accidents is impaired driving, both by drugs and alcohol. Approximately one quarter of all traffic fatalities in the Washington area were linked to impaired driving in 2016. While that figure is very high, it is actually a significant decrease from previous years. However, non-fatal injuries due to impaired driving have increased in the city.

Distracted driving is also believed to be a major factor in the increase in traffic deaths, both locally and across the U.S. The National Safety Council, for example, points out that improved car safety features should actually be helping lower traffic deaths, but those safety benefits may be cancelled out by distracted driving. Furthermore, while an increase in population and traffic goes some way to explaining the increase in fatalities in Washington, the rate of increase in fatalities still far outpaces population growth, which suggests that other causes, like distracted driving, are to blame.

Representation for accident victims

Impaired and distracting driving accidents are completely preventable, which makes them all the more tragic when they happen. For those who have been victims of an accident that may have been caused by a distracted or impaired driver, help is available. A personal injury attorney can represent crash victims who are pursuing justice after an accident, including by assisting them with pursuing com pensation and filing claims.