According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle deaths in 2015 saw the largest percentage rise in the past 50 years. Preliminary estimates show an 8% increase in motor vehicle deaths over 2014. The National Safety Council estimates that in 2015 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads and 4.4 million were seriously injured-making 2015 the deadliest driving year since 2008.
The new estimates show that at a state level, Oregon, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina all saw an increase in motor vehicle fatalities, while New Mexico, Kansas and New Jersey experienced decreases. In analyzing this new data, the president of the National Safety Council, Deborah A.P. Hersman, stated that “these numbers are service notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted. Ms. Hersman cautioned, “Engage your defensive driving skills and stay alert so we can reverse this trend in 2016.”
According to the Council, many factors contributed to the increase in driving fatalities. Among these factors, a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates are likely the core of the trend. As gas prices continue to drop and more people are employed, driving has become more affordable for many Americans. According to the United States Department of Transportation, it is estimated that 2015 saw a 3.5% increase in the number of miles driven by Americans over 2014.
To help ensure safety of motorists, it is important to remember these tips when on the road:
· Always make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt
· Don’t operate a vehicle while intoxicated
· Make sure to get plenty of sleep before driving and take breaks when you become tired
· Don’t use a cell phone while driving
· Know how your car’s safety systems operate