The number of people killed in car crashes last year exceeded 40,000 for the first time in a decade, reversing a trend that saw traffic fatalities dwindle for several years. Officials attribute the increase mostly to the improved economy and lower gas prices, which have led to more people driving for work and pleasure. The statistics released by the National Safety Council offer the first full picture of fatalities on the country’s roadways in 2016. The numbers were significantly higher than those projected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ¬(NHTSA) due to a simple mathematical difference.
The National Safety Council data shows a 6 percent increase in deaths last year when compared with 2015 and a corresponding 3 percent increase in the number of miles Americans drove last year. NHTSA statistics for 2016 will be released later this year. Given the disparity in methods of calculations, NHTSA counted 35,095 traffic fatalities in 2015, a 7.7 percent increase from the previous year, while the National Safety Council recorded 37,757. Deborah A.P. Hersman, president of the National Safety Council and former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said:
Motor vehicle fatality numbers have been ringing the alarm for two years. Unfortunately, we have been tone deaf to the data and the carnage on our roadways. If we fail to take action, the death toll will continue to rise.
About 4.6 million people required medical treatment after crashes, the safety council said, an increase of 7 percent over 2015. The cost of deaths, injuries and property damage attributed to crashes was $432.5 billion, up 12 percent from 2015. The safety council found a more than 20 percent increase in traffic fatalities in seven states: New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Alabama, Kansas and New Hampshire. Crash deaths declined by more than 10 percent in Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Nebraska. There were less significant drops in Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington state. The District had 28 traffic deaths in 2016, an 8 percent increase from the previous year.
Source: The Washington Post
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