Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported an estimated 10 percent increase in traffic fatalities for the first six months of 2016. NHTSA’s report was based on a statistical projection using data gathered, some of it in real time, from all 50 states. The increase is part of a trend. NHTSA reports that the second quarter of 2016 is “the seventh consecutive quarter with increases in fatalities as compared to corresponding quarters in previous years.” NHTSA said it was too early to identify a cause for the most recent uptick, but that hasn’t prevented safety advocates from working toward a solution.
In 2014, 1,284 people were killed in traffic accidents in North Carolina. Most of those people were occupants in a passenger car, though motor vehicle crashes also claimed the lives of 172 pedestrians, 190 motorcyclists and 19 bicyclists. Seventy percent of the fatalities resulted from crashes that did not involve an alcohol-impaired driver. While it is fairly easy to determine the appropriate criminal charge when a person drives while impaired and proximately causes the death of another, it is less obvious what the appropriate charge is when a driver’s violation of another type of traffic statute proximately causes someone else’s death.