Traffic deaths up nearly 10 percent after years of decline, NHTSA says

Washington – The number of people killed in traffic crashes during the first nine months of 2015 increased 9.3 percent from the same time period the previous year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An estimated 26,000 people died in traffic crashes between January and September 2015, compared with 23,796 deaths in 2014. The increase occurred after years of decline, the agency states in a press release, as traffic deaths decreased more than 22 percent from 2000 to 2014. Traffic fatalities were down 2.5 percent during the first nine months of 2014 compared to the first three-quarters of 2013.

Vehicle miles traveled also increased, by about 80.2 billion miles or a 3.5 percent increase over 2014. The death rate for the first nine months of 2015 was 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, an increase from 1.05 for the first nine months of 2014.

By region, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana had the largest percentage increase of traffic deaths – 20 percent.

NHTSA is scheduled to host regional summits to review unsafe actions that impact traffic safety. The summits will touch on speeding; drunk, distracted and drowsy driving; negligence in using safety devices such as safety belts and child seats; and new plans for “vulnerable road users” such as pedestrians and cyclists, according to the release.

“We’re seeing red flags across the U.S. and we’re not waiting for the situation to develop further,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in the release. “It’s time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety, and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts.”

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