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Traffic Deaths Up In 2015

The first few months of 2015 put the year on pace to be the deadliest for drivers in some time. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 7,500 people died in car and truck accidents in the first three months of 2015. That is an increase of 650 deaths, or 9.5 percent, from the same period in 2014. The total number of deaths is projected to be the highest since 2007.

While Americans have driven more miles so far this year, the increase does not fully explain the rise in fatalities. The total number of miles driven is up less than 4 percent from 2014. An improving economy and lower gas prices have put people on the roads, but something else is contributing to the growing fatality rate. 

As the data is preliminary, no broad themes can be drawn from the increase. Fatal car accidents are caused by many factors. Drunk drivers are responsible for more than 10,000 deaths every year, but the total percentage of alcohol-related fatalities has held steady or decreased in recent years. A problem that is known to be on the rise is that of distracted driving. Most studies have shown that drivers are more likely than ever to use their cell phones while behind the wheel. Despite the majority of states having texting bans in place, cell phone use still represents a potentially deadly distraction for drivers.

Whatever the cause, it is clear that 2015 is not shaping up to be a banner year in traffic safety. Hopefully the rest of the year will show an improvement.

Source: The Car Connection, "NHTSA Says 2015 Is Shaping Up To Be A Deadly Year For Drivers," by Richard Read, 31 August 2015 

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