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What's behind the rise in fatal crashes?

If you've purchased a new car recently, it may well include technology that warns you of vehicles in your blind spot, dings at you if you start to drift out of your lane and even displays a miniature speed limit sign on the speedometer that reminds you how fast you should be driving in your current location. It likely has a back-up camera to help spot cars, kids and obstacles immediately behind you.

So why are fatal car crashes increasing? According to the National Safety Council (NSC), over 40,000 people lost their lives in accidents in 2016 (the most current year for which data is available). That was a 6% increase from 2015 and a 13% rise from 2014.

Some government officials blame lax enforcement of drunk driving, seat belt and speed limit laws -- or lack of appropriate laws at all. These are three of the most common factors behind car crash fatalities. Here in Mississippi, only those in the front seat and children under 7 years old were required to wear seat belts until 2017. That meant that backseat passengers could legally be unrestrained and people could even ride loose in the back of a pickup truck -- both highly dangerous practices.

Distracted driving -- particularly due to the distractions available on smartphones -- is likely also a factor. Too many drivers think nothing of texting or talking on handheld phones while they drive. Some even post to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media sites while they're behind the wheel.

While you can't control other drivers' behavior, you can make sure that you are driving safely. This can help you be better prepared to respond quickly to a negligent or reckless driver. Ensuring that everyone in your car is securely buckled in can also help minimize serious injuries if you're involved in a crash.

However, if the unthinkable happens and a loved one is killed in a crash caused by another driver, it's essential to know what your options are for seeking the compensation you need and deserve to help your family move forward.

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