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Traffic deaths down overall, but SUV-related deaths up

According to a recent report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, the number fatalities on America's roads fell in 2017 after two years of rising deaths.

Comparatively, the decrease was a modest 1.8 percent. To put this in perspective, the number of deaths rose almost 8.5 percent in 2015 and rose another 6.5 percent in 2016. Overall, over 37,000 people died in fatal crashes in 2017.

While this number is, and should be, the source of ongoing concern, there was additional good news in NHTSA's report. Specifically, per miles driven, the number of deadly motor vehicle accidents dropped 1.2 percent over 2017. On the other hand, people actually drove more miles in 2017 than in 2016. One can reasonably interpret these numbers to suggest that the roads are actually getting safer; fewer accidents is not just the result of less driving.

In specific categories though, the numbers were not so encouraging. For instance, sport utility vehicles, SUVs, have enduring popularity both in the Tampa area and in the rest of the country. However, the number of people who died in connection with an SUV accident increased 3 percent. This was the only vehicle class where the number of fatalities increased.

Moreover, the number of pedestrian deaths, which includes bicyclists, remains at the highest point it has been in the past 20 years.

Hopefully, the downward trend with respect to fatalities which started in 2017 will continue in to this year. There has been considerable promise already in this respect. Still, many Florida families will lose loved ones in accidents this year, and they may be able to get compensation through a wrongful death case.

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