Until recent years, traffic fatalities were on a decades-long decline, hitting a historic low in 2011.
But 2015 saw the greatest percentage rise in traffic fatalities in 50 years, the National Safety Council previously reported.
Nationwide, about 19,100 people, enough to fill 382 school buses, died in crashes between January and June of this year, the council said. Another 2.2 million were injured, the council continued.
These numbers, compared to 2015, mean traffic fatalities have risen nine percent in the first half of 2016. The council relates the increase to a stronger economy and falling gas prices, as they have encouraged Americans to spend more on the road.
The average price at the pump has dropped more than a $1.30 per gallon, or 35 percent, since this time two years ago, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
However, more travelers on the road do not necessarily mean more accidents. So what is the stimulus or cause or this increase?
Troy Costales, safety division administrator at the Oregon Department of Transportation, weighs in when he attributed the increase to speeding, drug- or alcohol-impaired driving and distraction.
“Distraction is one that we’re talking a lot about, you just get a sense that distraction is playing a part and is a compounding factor,” he said.
Which poses the question – is smart phone use while driving outpacing the automobile industry’s ability to save us from ourselves?
The council estimated the total cost for crashes in the first half of 2016 at $205 billion.
“Our complacency is killing us,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in a statement. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us.”
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Thanks to: The Wall Street Journal