It's not working

You see commercials for backup cameras, lane-departure warning systems and even semi-autonomous vehicles. You see cars that can stop on their own when they detect a hazard. Maybe you even have some of these features on your own car.

Vehicles today have more safety features than ever before. It's not just about airbags and seat belts anymore. Cars are packed with systems designed to both prevent accidents and keep people safe when they do crash.

Statistics, though, keep trending in the wrong direction. Two of the most recent years have shown the largest jumps in traffic deaths in the past 50 years. It was incredible and frightening the first time it happened, after years of decline, and then it happened again the very next year.

The roads just continue to get more dangerous. You face more risks than ever. Fatalities keep climbing. Serious injuries pose a threat even for those who do survive. Some of these injuries -- amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and many more -- are life-changing.

A better economy

One potential reason for this shift is the improvement of the economy. The recession was bad for jobs but actually very good for traffic deaths. People drove far less, both because many lost their jobs and because people stopped taking trips and spending money on tourism. As people stayed home more, traffic deaths fell, and they have predictably gone up again as the economy gets better.

Distracted driving

Another common reason is distracted driving. Cellphones continue to play a very large role. Driving instructors point to phones as a primary distraction that they constantly have to push back against with young drivers.

In fact, many have said that distracted driving -- texting and driving, in particular -- puts people in greater danger than driving after they have been drinking. For decades, drunk driving campaigns have sought to stop one of the most risky behaviors on Ohio's roads, but texting may have surpassed it in what feels like a very short time.

After all, experts point out that you can drive around 100 yards -- as far as a football field -- in five seconds at 55 miles per hour. All it takes is a split second of failing to look at the road for an accident to happen.

Serious accidents

Hopefully, technology can catch up and start to bring catastrophic accidents and fatalities back down again. Perhaps these recent statistics will end up being a minor reversal. At this time, though, it's impossible to know, and the statistics paint a bleak picture.

As the risk on the road continues to climb, it gets even more important for those involved in serious accidents to know their rights.

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