2015 Surge in Traffic Deaths Triggers Renewed Focus on ‘Behavioral Safety’ for Motorists, DOT Reports

December 27, 2015

Over the first half of 2015, U.S. roadways saw a big surge in fatal motor vehicle accidents, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

In fact, a “statistical projection” of the latest data, which is still preliminary, indicates that “an estimated 16,225 people died in motor vehicle crashes” during the first six months of 2015 and that “this represents an increase of about 8.1 percent as compared to the 15,014 fatalities that were reported to have occurred in the first half of 2014.”

While officials are now focused on finalizing this data and uncovering just why there has been such a remarkable increase in deadly crashes in 2015, regulators are also taking these initial findings as a “call-to-action” to step up the fight against some of the most dangerous driver behaviors that often lead to deadly collisions.

Explaining this, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has stated:

Behavioral safety programs are the heart of NHTSA’s safety mission… While great public attention is focused on safety defects and recalls, and rightfully so, it is time as a nation to reinvigorate the fight against drunk and drugged driving, distraction and other risks that kill thousands every year, and time for State and local governments to reassess whether they are making the right policy choices to improve highway safety.

More Key Findings from 2015

In addition to discovering the remarkable increase in deadly motor vehicle accidents so far in 2015, officials analyzing the preliminary crash data have also reportedly found that:

  • Over this same period of time, there has been a significant increase in the number of miles driven (VMD) in the U.S. – Initial data reveals that an additional 51.9 billion miles were driven in the U.S. during the first six months of 2015, marking a roughly 3.5 percent increase from the VMD in the same period in 2014. While dropping unemployment rates of contributed to this increase, so too have dropping fuel prices, some officials have contended.
  • This is the first major jump in traffic deaths since 2007 – Effectively, the spike in fatal traffic crashes in the first half of 2015 upsets a 8-year trend during which traffic deaths were steadily declining.
  • Regionally, the only states in the U.S. to not see a spike in traffic deaths so far in 2015 have been California and Arizona – In fact, officials reported a “0” percent change in traffic fatality rates for these states for the first half of 2015 while every other state in the nation experienced increases, with the states surrounding the Great Lakes generally seeing the largest jumps in these rates.

When the DOT releases the finalized crash data for this year, we will report those findings here in a future blog. In the meantime, comment on these findings on our Facebook & Google+ pages.

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Categories: Car Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents