Often, trends are a good thing. However, the current trend – an increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents – could result in the United States experiencing its deadliest driving year since 2007. And with Labor Day coming up, traditionally a deadly weekend on U.S. roads, the National Safety Council is warning drivers to be aware on the roads.
Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths were 9 percent higher through the first six months of 2016 than in 2015, and 18 percent higher than two years ago at the six-month mark. An estimated 19,100 people have been killed on U.S. roads since January – enough to fill 382 school buses – and 2.2 million were seriously injured. The total estimated cost of these deaths and injuries is $205 billion.
“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”
The upward trend began in late 2014 and shows no signs of decreasing. Last winter, the National Safety Council issued its largest year-over-year percentage increase in 50 years, when it estimated fatalities had jumped 8 percent in 2015 compared to 2014. The continued rise in fatalities is prompting the council to predict the deadliest Labor Day holiday period since 2008. NSC estimates 438 people will be killed during the three-day holiday weekend.
States that have been particularly hard hit since 2014 – the start of the upward trend – are Florida (43 percent), Georgia (34 percent), Indiana (33 percent), California (31 percent increase), North Carolina (26 percent), Illinois (24 percent) and Kentucky (24 percent).
While many factors likely contributed to the fatality increase, a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates are at the core of the trend. Average gas prices for the first six months of this year were 16 percent lower than 2015 levels, helping to fuel a 3.3 percent increase in the number of miles driven.