The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its 2017 data on fatal car crashes. Overall, crash fatalities decreased from 2016. However, California motorists may be concerned to find out that deaths from large truck collisions and urban area accidents increased. SUV and tractor-trailer crash deaths went up 3 and 5.8 percent, respectively, while deaths in large straight truck wrecks rose a startling 18.7 percent.

By contrast, the total number of people killed in traffic crashes saw a nearly 2 percent decrease. There were decreases in passenger car, van and light pickup truck accidents. The NHTSA also noted significant decreases in bicyclist deaths (8.1 percent) and speeding-related deaths (5.6 percent).

Several factors may be behind the increases in truck and urban area crash deaths. For example, there are more vehicles on the road with the stronger economy. The last decade has seen a 17.4 percent increase in passenger car occupant, pedestrian, motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths in urban areas.

Lastly, the NHTSA noted a rise in fatal accidents involving opioids, cannabis and prescription medications. It continues to address this issue with a campaign telling drivers, “Drive high, get a DUI.” It should be remembered that the decrease in fatalities in 2017 does not necessarily constitute a trend.

If the victim of a car accident finds out that the other party was negligent, they may be eligible for compensation. Once the proof of the defendant’s negligence has been gathered, the victim could file a claim against the insurance company. A lawyer could negotiate for a settlement, leaving litigation as a last resort.