Highest Reported Rates of Traffic Death Since 2008
By Zac Pingle, Staff Writer
An estimated 35,200 people died last year on U.S. roadways. This the first increase in traffic related death since 2012, according to the NHTSA. The 7.7 percent increase in total traffic deaths from 2014 to 2015 was also supported by a similar report released by the National Safety Council (NSC). The findings are surprising, considering that 2014 set a record low of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled on a national average. In contrast, 2015 had a rate of 1.12 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
The causation of the spike in traffic deaths is still under investigation by the NHTSA. It is possible that a 3.5 percent increase in overall vehicle usage in the U.S. is what is contributing to the increased rates of vehicle deaths. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said “ As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles. But that only explains part of the increase; 94 percent of crashes can be tied back to human error, so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior.” The human error involved with many of these crashes is drunk or distracted driving, speeding, and failure to use seat belts while driving.
According to the NSC, the states that had the highest increase of traffic deaths included:
- Vermont -- 30 percent
- Oregon -- 27 percent
- New Hampshire -- 24 percent
- Georgia -- 22 percent
- Washington -- 21 percent
On the other hand, there were only 13 states that had a decrease in traffic fatalities in 2015, which included:
- New Mexico -- 20 percent
- Rhode Island -- 13 percent
- Kansas -- 7 percent
- Hawaii -- 5 percent
- North Dakota -- 4 percent
“These numbers are serving notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted.” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, President CEO of the NSC. “Engage in your defensive driving skills and stay alert so we can reverse this trend in 2016.”
The NHTSA mentioned in the report that after a final dataset is released later this summer, it will start working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and other members/parties of federal and state governments to find definitive causes of the increased rates of traffic death and to develop new technology-based solutions to improve safety.