Highway fatalities climbed again in 2016, according to report

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Updated Feb 19, 2017
Traffic fatalities increased by 6 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to preliminary data released by the National Safety Council.Traffic fatalities increased by 6 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to preliminary data released by the National Safety Council.

A preliminary look at 2016’s highway fatality numbers shows as many as 40,000 people died on American roadways during the year, according to data from the National Safety Council.

If the numbers hold true, 2016 would become the deadliest year on the nation’s roads since 2007. The NSC’s 40,200 fatalities estimate is a 6 percent increase over 2015’s highway fatalities, and a 14 percent increase over 2014’s – the largest two-year jump in 53 years, NSC says. The group also estimates the annual mileage death rate for 2016 was 1.25 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 3 percent increase over 2015.

NSC says 2016’s numbers are provisional and could increase or decrease as more data becomes available.

The report gave no indication as to how many of the 40,200 fatalities were a result of an accident involving a truck.

Additionally, the results of a driver safety survey conducted by the NSC found that 64 percent of drivers surveyed are comfortable speeding, 47 percent are comfortable texting either by voice or manual entry while driving, 13 percent are comfortable driving while under the influence of either recreational or medicinal marijuana, and 10 percent were comfortable driving while impaired by alcohol.

In the same survey, 96 percent of respondents listed drunk driving and distracted driving as major or minor safety concerns.

Texas, California and Florida were the top three states for traffic fatalities in 2016, each with more than 3,000 fatalities during the year, according to NSC’s data. Only 12 states had fewer traffic fatalities in 2016 than in 2015, the preliminary numbers show.

To combat the recent uptick in traffic fatalities, NSC lists several recommendations to cut down on accidents including mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, using automated enforcement to catch speeders, extend laws banning cell phone use (including hands-free) to all drivers and more.

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