The data, which has not been finalized, reveals that an estimated 17,775 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the first half of this year. Over the same period in 2015, there were 16,100 reported fatalities. The preliminary figures from this year are the highest since the first half of 2008 when a reported 17,894 people died in traffic accidents.
The increase in fatalities comes as drivers are spending more time on the roads, with Americans racking up a total of 1.58 trillion miles in the first half of 2016 – up 3.3 percent from 2015. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicles miles of travel has also increased to 1.12 fatalities, up from 1.05 fatalities in 2015.
With traffic fatalities increasing at an alarming rate, NHTSA, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration joined forces with the National Safety Council to commence the Road to Zero Coalition to end traffic fatalities within the next 30 years. In the hopes of reaching the lofty goal, the alliance will focus on promoting seat belt use, campaigns aimed at behavior change, installing rumble strips, and more.