Traffic fatalities up nine percent with no decrease in sight

Cars are arguably safer than ever, so it seems like traffic fatalities should be falling. Unfortunately, that's not the case. According to a report by the National Safety Council, its preliminary estimates reveal that traffic fatalities were up nine percent in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period last year.

The NSC, which is a congressionally chartered nonprofit that acquires its data from state authorities, estimates that roughly 19,000 people have been killed on US roads since January. The figure accounts for an increase of 18 percent from two years ago during the same six-month period. An additional 2.2 million people were seriously injured in the first half of the year, as well. The NSC estimates that the cost of the deaths and injuries at approximately $205 billion.

The upward trend in fatalities began at the end of 2014 with no decrease in sight. In 2014, the NSC reports that the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles was 1.1. Last year, the number increased to 1.2 and is now projected to be 1.3 per 100 million vehicle miles. If the NSC's figures are correct and fatalities continue at the current rate, annual deaths for 2016 could exceed 40,000 fatalities for the first time in nine years.

Since 2014, states with the biggest increase in traffic fatalities include Illinois (24 percent), Kentucky (24 percent), North Carolina (26 percent), California (31 percent), Indiana (33 percent), Georgia (34 percent), and Florida (43 percent). While there's no hard data to explain why traffic fatalities are increasing, one explanation might be the increase in miles driven in the US. That figure is up to 1.58 trillion miles through the first six months, or up 3.3 percent from 2015. Low gas prices and an increase in the number of vehicles on the road could also have something to do with it.

The NSC also estimated that approximately 438 people will be killed on US roads during the Labor Day holiday period, the highest amount since 2008. According to Statistic Brain, vehicle fatalities have decreased since 1970. But with more than 37,000 deaths reported last year, which is expected to increase this year, the figure is quickly going back up.

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