Traffic deaths at highest level since 2008, preliminary data shows

Washington – Motor vehicle traffic deaths increased 7.7 percent – an estimated 35,200 people – in 2015, according to preliminary data released July 1 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If this estimate holds, 2015 will have recorded the highest number of traffic deaths since 2008, when 37,423 fatalities were reported. The data also shows that nine out of 10 U.S. regions saw a rise in traffic deaths, with the most significant increase among pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists.

NHTSA organized a series of six regional safety summits in February and March aimed at improving behavioral challenges affecting drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving; speeding; and failure to use basic vehicle safety features. The agency also discussed initiatives to protect pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

“Every American should be able to drive, ride or walk to their destination safely, every time,” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a press release. “We are analyzing the data to determine what factors contributed to the increase in fatalities and at the same time, we are aggressively testing new safety technologies, new ways to improve driver behavior, and new ways to analyze the data we have, as we work with the entire road safety community to take this challenge head-on.”

When the final data is released later this year, the Department of Transportation and NHTSA officials said they plan to issue a call to action to safety partners, elected officials, technologists, data scientists and policy experts to join the agencies in searching for more definitive answers and developing solutions to improve safety and reduce traffic deaths.

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