WASHINGTON (July 8, 2016) — U.S. motor vehicle traffic deaths rose 7.7 percent in 2015, to an estimated 35,200 from 2014's 32,675, according to preliminary data released recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The early statistics showed that nine out of 10 U.S. regions saw increases in vehicle-related deaths, especially among pedestrians and bicyclists, according to the NHTSA report issued July 1.
“As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a press release.
“But that only explains part of the increase,” Rosekind said. “Ninety-four percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error, so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevents crashes in the first place.”
With the information gathered from six regional safety summits held in February and March, NHTSA is working to develop new tools that could improve behavioral challenges, the agency said. These challenges include:
- drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving;
- failure to use safety features, such as seat belts and child seats; and
- new initiatives to protect pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users
When the final report is available this summer, NHTSA said, it will issue a call to action to safety partners, state and local elected officials, technologists, data specialists and policy experts to join the agency for definitive answers and create solutions to traffic fatalities and injuries.
NHTSA's parent agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, is pressing forward with new guidance to promote the development of automated safety technologies, NHTSA said. NHTSA hosted two public meetings earlier this year in advance of guidance regarding automated safety technologies that will be released this summer, it said.
NHTSA is working with a sister agency, the Federal Highway Administration, to implement the new safety performance measures, which require states and metropolitan areas to set targets for reducing deaths among motorized and non-motorized road users.