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National Safety Council wants to ban cellphone use by drivers

Lower gas prices and an improved economy resulted in people driving more in California and around the country in 2016, but the chief of the National Safety Council said that the rise in traffic fatalities could not be credited entirely to a 3 percent rise in miles traveled. The council reported that in 2016, 40,200 people died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide. This figure reflects a 6 percent increase from 2015 and a 14 percent jump compared to deaths in 2014.

A total prohibition on mobile phone use by drivers, including hands-free systems, topped the nonprofit advocacy group's list of recommendations to reverse the death toll. A survey sponsored by the council revealed that 47 percent of drivers feel that texting while driving is acceptable. The NSC also believes that ignition interlock devices should be made mandatory for motorists who have been convicted of drunk driving, even for first offenders.

Other dangerous behaviors identified within the survey included drunk driving, failing to wear seat belts and speeding in residential areas. A full 10 percent of respondents admitted to driving while intoxicated, and 43 percent of them had an accident while impaired. In its reports, the NSC estimated the total cost of 2016 traffic accidents to be in excess of $400 billion, taking into account property damage as well as injuries and fatalities.

People who have been injured in a collision caused by the negligence of another motorist often incur significant medical expenses and lose wages during their recovery periods. They may want to have the assistance of counsel in seeking compensation for these and other losses from the at-fault motorist in the event that the settlement offered by the driver's insurance company is inadequate.

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