Deaths due to traffic accidents in the United State rose by 10.4 percent in just the first half of 2016 when compared to the first half of 2015, according to a report issued by The New York Times.
The NYT indicates that crashes are “maintaining a steady climb.” The numbers were released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which also pointed out that Americans drove an additional 50.5 billion miles in the first half of 2016, also when compared to the first six months of 2015. This represents an increase in miles of 3.3 percent.
The additional miles driven does not explain the rise in deaths, noted the NYT, pointing out that there were a total of 17,775 traffic deaths from January through June 2016 and 16,100 traffic deaths in the first half of 2015.
Officials have not determined any one specific cause for the increase, according to the NYT. In fact, the NHTSA released a statement that, “It is too soon to attribute contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways.”
The traffic safety administration indicated in late 2014 that the death rate had increased for seven consecutive quarters; this compared with the corresponding late-year quarters of prior years, the NYT reported.
The federal officials also announced a new coalition entitled, “Road to Zero.” The new alliance is meant to eradicate traffic deaths. These include sidewalk deaths and bicycle path deaths. Eradication of these fatalities is expected by 2046.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) indicated that it would be committing $3 million over the next three years for grants that would offer more immediate, stopgap help, including touting the benefits of using seatbelts and installing rumble strips on roads to slow traffic speeds.
The NYT pointed out that advanced technology—driverless cars—is expected to have significant influences in the DOT’s longer-term plans. Issues surrounding computers operating vehicles was tried when a Tesla Model S electric sedan crashed and killed its driver this June when the car was in self-driving mode, the NYT noted.
In September 2016, President Obama’s administration announced new guidelines to promote the development of the technology while also promising increased safety oversight.
Meanwhile News12 Long Island recently reported that a new study found that the deaths of teenage drivers and their young passengers are increasing at a distressing rate. John Corlett, director of public affairs for AAA, said that distractions, speeding, and inexperience have become a fatal blend. Corlett also said that one of the reasons why teen driving deaths are on the rise is that the younger drivers are learning bad habits from their parents. For instance, he noted that teenagers are not wearing their seat belts, especially those sitting in the back seat. New York State does not have a law mandating that seat belts be worn by passengers sitting in a vehicle’s back seat.