The National Safety Council has estimated that 40,200 people died in auto accidents in 2016: the year with the latest figures. This represents a 6% increase from 2015, which, in turn, saw a 7% increase from 2014. Ohio residents should know that this 13% total increase is the most significant jump in crash fatality numbers in the past 50-plus years.

There are many possible factors that contributed to this. An improved economy may have led to more people driving to work, taking road trips with the family and going out for joyrides. More people on the road, combined with the higher speed limits in some cities, means more crashes and perhaps more fatal ones.

Another factor is the lax enforcement of traffic laws like laws against speeding and neglecting the seatbelt. With alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers causing roughly a third of all fatal accidents, it’s also clear that laws against DUI are not being enforced as much as they might. Then there are the new technologies that can cause drivers to distract themselves.

Seatbelt laws and bans against phone use among drivers could help reduce the number of fatal accidents. Drunk driving could be avoided through the installation of ignition interlock devices. Besides that, many are awaiting self-driving cars to solve the problem of driver negligence.

In the meantime, there are laws in place to allow the victims of auto accidents to seek compensation for their injuries. In this state, crash victims could file a claim against the other driver’s auto insurance company as long as the guilty driver shares at least 50% of the fault. Plaintiffs might have their damages lowered if they contributed to their own injuries, such as by not wearing a seatbelt. Before filing their claim, victims may benefit from hiring an attorney.