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After Long Decline, Traffic Deaths Again on the Rise

"These numbers are a wake-up call," warns Rosekind.

by on Nov.24, 2015

Government data suggest distracted driving is responsible for at least 10% of fatalities.

Traffic deaths spiked by 8% during the first half of the year, according to a new federal report, reversing a decade-long downward trend.

Officials point to a variety of factors that may be behind the unexpected increase, including both lower fuel prices and the improving economy. That has led to more Americans driving more frequently and for longer distances. A new AAA report, for example, indicates 42 million Americans will drive at least 42 miles over the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

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“These numbers are a wake-up call,” said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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July 4 Holiday Likely to be a Deadly One

National Safety Council predicts highest highway fatality rate in 7 years.

by on Jun.29, 2015

Highway deaths are expected to surge over the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

With highway fatalities already on the rise after years of steady decline, the upcoming Independence Day holiday could be a particularly deadly one.

As many as 409 Americans will be killed on the road during the long weekend, with another 49,500 injured, forecasts the National Safety Council. That would be the highest number for an Independence Day holiday since 2008 if the numbers prove accurate.

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“Drivers always need to be vigilant, but this weekend, focus on the safety of your family,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “A few precautions can help ensure a memorable weekend. Spending the holiday with family is preferable to spending time in the ER.”

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Highway Deaths Plunge to Lowest Level Since 1949

Data could challenge assumptions about distracted driving “epidemic.”

by on Apr.01, 2011

Improved vehicle design gets some of the credit, experts say, for declining highway fatalities.

While officials caution it’s still a sizable toll, U.S. highway deaths dropped to 32,788 last year, the lowest level since 1949, continuing a relatively steady decline that safety experts credit to a variety of factors.

The 2010 number was a 3% drop from the year before, when 33,808 Americans were killed in motor vehicle and pedestrian collisions.  And the 2009 number was itself a nearly 10% decline from the year before that.

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Despite the decline, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood sounded a cautionary note when releasing the data, stressing, “Too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first.”

Exactly what is behind the latest dip in highway deaths is likely to trigger a flurry of debate.  Often, in years past, sharp declines in the overall death toll accompanied economic downturns, when American motorists reined in discretionary driving.  But that wasn’t the case in 2010.

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