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Truck and urban crashes buck downward trend in traffic deaths

There's good news and bad news from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about traffic fatality rates. However, people in New York City might want to pay particular attention to the bad news. While most types of traffic accident fatalities are down, those caused by urban collisions are up.

According to NHTSA data for 2017, there were fewer fatalities in traffic accidents involving passenger cars, vans, light pickup trucks, bicycles and motorcycles than there were the year before. Fewer pedestrians were killed, there were fewer drunk driving crashes and there were fewer fatalities due to speeding in 2017 than in 2016.

But SUVs and large truck statistics are another story. The fatalities in tractor-trailer wrecks jumped by 5.8 percent in 2017, and large straight truck crash deaths were up by 18.7 percent. SUV fatalities also rose, by 3 percent.

In the past, most vehicle crash fatalities happened in rural areas. But over the last decade, rural area crash deaths have gone down by 18 percent while urban area deaths involving cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians have gone up by almost as much (17.4 percent). The deputy administrator of NHTSA says that greater urban density -- more people and vehicles competing for space -- could be the reason for this.

When motor vehicle accidents have a clear cause, such as a driver breaking a law like speeding, a fault in the design of a road or a mechanical failure in a vehicle, the responsible parties could be held legally liable for resulting damages. If the cause of an accident is not immediately clear, lawyers may hire accident investigators who can find the cause so that fault can be assigned.

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