Traffic Fatalities Increased In 2015 After Long-term Steady Decline

October 26, 2016

In 2015, more than 35,000 people died in car crashes. The fatality rate before that had been steadily declining for about 50 years. The rate increased by 7.2 percent between 2014 and 2015 and the rise in fatalities reflected deaths across all population segments. The last increase of this significance happened in 1966, and the rate that year rose by 8.1 percent from 1965.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary said that this problem will take teamwork to solve and scientists and safety experts should work together to make the streets safer and to improve vehicle safety as well. In 2006, the number of traffic deaths was about 25 percent higher. Many new safety programs that were developed during the following years helped lower the number of fatal crashes. There were also effective campaigns and incentives to increase seat belt use and to reduce impaired or intoxicated driving. Vehicle safety features such as stability control and air bags have also helped lower the number of traffic deaths.

The National Highway Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Transportation and the White House are working collaboratively to make a stronger call to action for pinpointing the cause of the increase. The NHTSA plans to share its fatality analyses with state officials, scientists and safety partners to identify problems and develop solutions. New data collection technologies from the private sector should also help in finding the cause and developing better solutions.

One of the factors that may have contributed to the increase in crashes was the recent gas prices. After years of staying high, prices finally dropped considerably last year. This led to more leisure driving and more business transportation. The average number of miles traveled per driver in 2015 increased by 3.5 percent since 2014. This was the largest increase in 25 years.

Another alarming find was that cyclist and pedestrian fatalities increased to a record level that has not been surpassed in 20 years. Motorcycle deaths also increased considerably. Some of the contributing factors to fatalities in the reported crashes were not wearing seat belts, driving while intoxicated, distracted driving and speeding. In addition to the measures recently put into place to find and fix the cause of more crash fatalities, the Department of Transportation plans to find solutions to lower the number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. To learn more about safety on the roads, discuss your concerns with an agent.

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