NHTSA Attributes Rise in Traffic Deaths to Low Gas Prices

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released preliminary data that showed a 7.7 percent increase in vehicle-related traffic deaths between 2014 and 2015. Their estimates suggest that 9 of 10 regions in the United States saw increases in traffic deaths last year. Roughly 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in 2015, compared to 32,675 reported fatalities in 2014. NHTSA analysts have cited a number of reasons for the increase in fatalities, including a recent nationwide decline in gas prices.

“As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind in a press release. “But that only explains part of the increase. Ninety-four percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error, so we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place.”

The NHTSA has hosted a series of safety summits designed to develop response strategies to the rising fatality rates. These strategies include creating new initiatives to protect pedestrians and cyclists and establishing new tools to combat drunk, drugged and distracted driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation is also working to promote automated accident-avoidance technologies that could mitigate the risk of human error and significantly reduce accident rates.

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