The latest available figures from the National Safety Council (NSC) indicate that there was a 13% increase in roadway fatalities between 2014 and 2016. That’s the biggest increase in car wreck fatalities in over 50 years.

What gives? Motor vehicles are supposed to be safer than ever, but people are still needlessly dying out there on the roads. Theories abound, but some of the contributing factors probably include:

Drunk and drugged driving

Drunk driving is still a common problem, and car wrecks involving drunk drivers — which include many wrong-way crashes — can be among the most destructive. Drugged driving is also an issue. Many people still don’t seem to realize that a drug doesn’t have to be illegal — or even a controlled substance — to cause a problem with their reflexes, attention span or ability to stay alert. Around one-third of all fatal wrecks involve drugs or alcohol.

Speeding

Speed limits are there for a reason, but some drivers seem to take them as “suggestions” rather than actual rules. Speeding is particularly problematic on rural roads and highways where police activity is limited. As one researcher with the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety noted, “There are times of the day we only have one or two troopers on duty in a county so that you can speed, and there is no one there to deter it.”

More technology

Cellphones have added to problems with distracted driving, but they don’t get all of the blame for the increase in fatal wrecks. Drivers are distracted by global positioning satellite (GPS) devices, various “smart car” features and even their radios. It doesn’t help that many high-end vehicles are now sold with everything from video players in the back seat for passengers to satellite radio with hundreds of channels.

It’s smart to do everything you can to protect yourself and your family while you’re on the road. If you are in a serious wreck that is caused by another driver’s negligence, get in touch with an experienced advocate as soon as possible.