The National Safety Council estimates traffic deaths are 14% higher through the first six months of 2015 than they were during the same period in 2014, and serious injuries requiring medical care are 30% higher.
NSC says that from January to June, nearly 19,000 people died in traffic crashes across the U.S., and more than 2.2 million were seriously injured IF these rates continue, 2015 will be the deadliest driving year since 2007. Costs are also up as well. The six-month estimated bill for traffic deaths, injuries and property damage is $152 billion – 24% higher than 2014.
The estimated annual mileage death rate is 1.3 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up 8% from the preliminary 2014 rate of 1.2. If the level of increase in fatalities observed during the first two quarters were to remain through the end of the year, total motor-vehicle fatalities in 2015 could possibly exceed 40,000 for the first time in eight years.
The high death and injury toll are caused by many factors, such as an improving economy with lower gas prices and unemployment rates that increase vehicle miles traveled. Average gas prices are 30% lower than they were in 2014 and projected to remain relatively stable into 2016 according to the Energy Information Administration. This generally means an increase in traffic; more people can afford to drive, and many travel longer distances and take vacations.
“Follow the numbers: the trend we are seeing on our roadways is like a flashing red light – danger lies ahead,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Be a defensive driver and make safe decisions behind the wheel. Your life really depends on it.”
To help ensure safety, the Council recommends drivers:
• Make sure every passenger buckles up on every trip
• Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation
• Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
• Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free
• Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits. Teens are three times as likely to crash as more experienced drivers.
• Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. My Car Does What ( https://mycardoeswhat.org/ ) can help drivers understand the ins and outs of features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning systems and backup cameras.