Final Count: Traffic Fatalities Show Highest Increase in Almost 50 Years

NHTSAFatalities2015JPEGTraffic fatalities totaled 35,092 in 2015, a 7.2 percent increase from 2014, according to the final numbers released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This number ends a five-decade trend of declining fatalities, according to NHTSA.

The largest increase previously was in 1966, when fatalities showed an 8.1-percent climb.

The total number of individuals injured grew to 2.44 million from 2.34 million, according to NHTSA.

Here is a breakdown of some of NHTSA’s findings:

• SUV occupant fatalities increased by 382, an additional 10.1 percent over 2014.

• Van occupant fatalities were up by 95, a 9.3-percent increase.

• Passenger-car occupant fatalities grew by 681, a 5.7-percent increase.

• Pickup truck occupant fatalities increased by 200, a 4.7-percent increase.

Vehicle miles traveled increased by 3.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, the largest increase since 1992, according to NHTSA.

“Solving this problem will take teamwork, so we’re issuing a call to action and asking researchers, safety experts, data scientists, and the public to analyze the fatality data and help find ways to prevent these tragedies,” says Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary.

A decade ago, traffic deaths were nearly 25 percent higher. A total of 42,708 fatalities were reported nationwide in 2005, according to NHTSA.

Almost half of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts, NHTSA notes.

“The data tell us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, or drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled,” says Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator. “While there have been enormous improvements in many of these areas, we need to find new solutions to end traffic fatalities.”

For a full breakdown of NHTSA’s results, click here.

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