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More people are dying on our highways and roadways.

That’s according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They released their most recent issue of “Traffic Safety Facts” in October 2016, in which they noted that the number of motor vehicle deaths during the first half of the year increased by 10 percent over the same period last year.

Though the administration warns that it’s too early to make conclusions about the rising numbers, the NHTSA does note that if the trend continues throughout the rest of the year, we will see the largest percentage increase in traffic deaths since the 1960s.

 Rates of Traffic Fatalities Rising Again

So far, an estimated 17,775 people have died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. That’s an increase of about 10.4 percent over the 16,100 reported in the first part of 2015. Researchers also found an increase in vehicle miles traveled by about 50.5 billion, credited to the improving economy and more Americans being on the road.

Last year ended the trend of declining fatalities on our nation’s highways. A total of 35,092 people died in 2015 on roadways, a 7.2 percent increase over the deaths that occurred in 2014. The last time the rates increased by a similar percentage was in 1966, when deaths rose 8.1 percent from the year before.

We’re still doing better, however, than we were about a decade ago. In 2005, we had 42,708 fatalities nationwide. Research credits increasing seat belt use, air bags, and electronic stability control for the decrease. Still, “far too many people are killed on our nation’s roads every year,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Call to Action Seeks Solutions to Improve Traffic Safety

In response to the numbers released so far for 2016, the NHTSA, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the White House have issued a call to action for help finding the cause of the increase. They’re seeking input from state and local officials, data scientists, policy experts, safety partners, and technologists.

Some of the key questions they hope to explore include:

  • How can we identify communities at higher risk for fatal crashes?
  • How is climate change contributing to the risk?
  • How can we use studies on distracted driving, seat belt use, and speeding to better alter behaviors?
  • How can we target communities with a high prevalence of behaviors linked to fatal crashes (like drug use and drinking)?

Some educational institutions and private sector firms are already working to answer these questions, including Mapbox, a platform that helps better educate people about where fatal crashes often occur in their communities.

The DOT is also working with the auto industry to improve vehicle safety and to find new solutions to distracted and drowsy driving. All three organizations have asked others, including students and researchers, to look into the data and see what they can come up with.

“There is absolute value in bringing together a wide range of stakeholders,” Deborah A. P. Hersman, president of the National Safety Council and former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board told the Washington Post. “It’s going to take all of us to solve this problem.”







One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Doug

    How is Climate Change contributing to the increase in accidents? Unbelievable! This just shows how this and other Government agencies have long-ago served their purposes and are out of touch with reality.

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