More car and truck accidents in Alaska as economy picks up

The financial crisis was not as hard on Alaska's economy as it was on the economies of some states. But, as the state's economy rebounds, another threat is becoming more prevalent in the Last Frontier: motor vehicle accidents.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash statistics highlight trend

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 82 traffic fatalities in Alaska in 2007, just before the economy began to slow down. In 2008, that number had dropped to 62. By 2010, there were just 56 roadway deaths in Alaska.

What did it all mean? While there are many factors that influence the number of traffic accidents and roadway deaths, one of the most important is the state of the economy. A weaker economy means fewer vehicle miles traveled, particularly for large trucks and other commercial vehicles. This translates into a lower risk of involvement in a car crash - there simply are not as many vehicles on the road at any given time.

When the economy picks up, so do the crash statistics. More people head out on road trips, more truckers strap in for the long haul and there is even more discretionary local driving.

At the end of 2011, with the economic recovery just beginning, the NHTSA reported 72 roadway deaths in Alaska for the year - an increase of more than 25 percent over 2010.

Final 2012 numbers for Alaska have not yet been released by the NHTSA, and of course the complete data for 2013 is a long way from materializing. However, the agency reports that preliminary nationwide data from 2012 shows a 5.3 percent increase in traffic deaths.

Alaska may be particularly susceptible to this increase for two reasons. First, the state's heavy reliance on the energy industry and the long distances goods must be hauled to reach consumers in the state mean Alaska has more large commercial vehicles on its highways compared to other states. And second, traffic deaths were up disproportionately in the winter of 2012, increasing by a stunning 12.6 percent nationwide, more than double the general rate at which roadway fatalities increased - in Alaska, winter lasts a long time.

Injured in a car accident, or lost a loved one? Call an Alaska attorney

It is generally a good thing that the economy is picking up steam. Yet, the improved economy can come with unintended consequences. With more vehicles on the road, all it can take is a moment of inattention behind the wheel to permanently alter the lives of accident victims and their families.

If you have been injured in a car crash, or if a family member has been killed, you may be entitled to compensation, money that can help you fight through your loss. Talk to an Alaska personal injury attorney today to learn more about your right to compensation from those at fault for a motor vehicle crash.