Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that roadway fatalities in the U.S. have reached the 40,000 mark for the third consecutive year. Residents of California should know that in 2016, there were 40,327 deaths reported on America’s roads, followed by 40,231 deaths in 2017 and 40,000 in 2018.

The states that saw the highest spike (at least 5.8%) in fatalities were Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Washington, D.C., was also included. States that became safer include Kansas, Wyoming, Maine and New Jersey.

The 2018 estimate, though representing a 1% decrease from 2017 and 2016, reflects a startling 14% increase when compared with 2015 numbers. Unsafe driving behaviors are the No. 1 reason why fatalities are still high. Distracted driving was involved in an estimated 8% of crashes reported in 2018, and drowsy driving was behind 2%. Pedestrian deaths also spiked.

The NSC has several recommendations that may help keep numbers down for 2019. First, everyone should be a defensive driver and have safeguards in place against drowsy or distracted driving. Parents should carefully observe their teens’ driving behavior. Those with advanced driver assistance systems in their cars should be familiar with the functions. If a car is recalled, drivers must act immediately.

Most auto accidents are caused through negligence. In many cases, both sides are negligent to some degree. In this state, one may file a personal injury claim and recover damages that are proportioned to that degree of fault. To help ensure a good settlement, a victim may want to hire a lawyer who, in turn, could hire investigators and medical professionals to gather evidence and measure the extent of injuries. The lawyer might then begin negotiations with the insurance company.