NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL
The NSC, a nonprofit organization created by Congress to promote safety, announced that traffic deaths are up 14% for the first half of 2015. Nearly 19,000 people have died in motor vehicle related accidents and the increase began in 2014. If this continues then traffic deaths could exceed 40,000 for the first time since the year 2007. This growing trend has shown fatality increases for the last 15 months in a row and the nation's driving (mileage) passed the previous record set in 2007. The estimated annual mileage death rate this year is 1.3 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which is also up from 2014's rate.
As far as good news in concerned, deaths due to drunken driving has dropped to 30% from 50% and teen driving deaths are also down. Some of the factors that seem to point toward the higher death rate this year are higher speed limits set by some states, and distracted driving caused by cell phone use and text messaging. The Council estimates that a quarter of all crashes involve cellphone use. Other factors include more travel in general due to a stronger economy, lower unemployment and low gas prices.
So it appears that because we, as a nation of drivers, are logging more miles every day of the week because more of us are employed, gas prices are lower and the economy is doing better since the "economic crash". In addition we are driving while distracted by using our handheld cellphones and reading and writing texts in the car. Psychologically, I would guess that we are also driving faster than the posted speed limits because gas is cheaper and we are not paying as much attention to speed and to the roadway while looking at our phones.
The moral of this story is to slow down, pay attention, drop the phone (or get hands free) and don't become a statistic.