Traffic Deaths, Costs On Pace to Reach Highest Since 2007

August 18, 2015

Traffic deaths are 14 percent higher through the first six months of 2015 than they were during the same period in 2014, and serious injuries are 30 percent higher, according to the National Safety Council.

From January to June, nearly 19,000 people died in traffic crashes across the U.S., and more than 2.2 million were seriously injured (those requiring medical attention), putting the country on pace for its deadliest driving year since 2007, the safety group’s latest report says.

Costs are also up. The six-month estimated bill for traffic deaths, injuries and property damage is $152 billion – 24 percent higher than 2014.

“Follow the numbers: the trend we are seeing on our roadways is like a flashing red light – danger lies ahead,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Be a defensive driver and make safe decisions behind the wheel. Your life really depends on it.”

While the high death and injury toll could be due to many factors, an improving economy with lower gas prices and unemployment rates herald increases in vehicle miles traveled, according to Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the safety organization.

The group said average gas prices are 30 percent lower than they were in 2014 and are projected to remain relatively stable heading into 2016. This generally means an increase in traffic; more people can afford to drive, and many travel longer distances and take vacations.

The traffic death report follows news from auto insurers including GEICO, Allstate and Progressive that they are seeing a rise in claims.

The states seeing the biggest increases in traffic fatalities in the first six months of 2015 compared to 2014 were Oregon (59% increase), Florida (29%), Georgia (26%), Minnesota (26%), Indiana (23%), North Dakota (22%), Louisiana (20%) and Colorado (20%).

South Dakota (-34%), Delaware (-28%) and the District of Columbia (-23%) saw the biggest declines in fatalities.

Source: National Safety Council

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