The National Safety Council released preliminary data about traffic fatalities in 2015 and the news is not good. From January to June, 18,600 traffic deaths were reported throughout the United States. Through June of 2014, 16,400 deaths had been reported. That marks a 14 percent increase in motor vehicle deaths so far this year. It puts 2015 on pace to be the most deadly year on U.S. roadways since 2007.
In addition to a higher number of fatalities, 2015 has seen a substantial increase in the estimated cost of deaths injuries and property damage due to car accidents. The NSC reports losses of $152 billion. That’s a 24 percent increase over the first six months of 2014. The costs calculated in motor vehicle accidents include lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative costs, property loss and costs to employers.
The total number of traffic accidents and traffic fatalities is dependent, at least in part, on the total number of miles driven. Early reports also indicate that motor vehicle miles travelled are up. Gas prices are down 30 percent from last year and cheaper gas does encourage more people to drive. In addition, continued improvement in the employment percentage likely contributes to higher commuter traffic.
The president of the NSC added one more likely contributing factor to the rising number of traffic deaths. She suggested that distracted driving is more common as cell phone use by drivers continues to rise. The proliferation of laws against texting behind the wheel has done little or nothing to stem the tide of cell phone use by people who should be focusing on safe driving.
Source: CNN Money, “Traffic deaths jump 14% in 2015,” by Jackie Wattles, 17 August 2015