The United States has seen an alarming increase in traffic-related deaths in the first six months of 2016, compared to the same time period of 2015. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 17,775 people died in motor vehicle crashes so far in 2016. Last year at this time there were 16,100, resulting in an increase of 10.4 percent. The NHTSA also reports that although overall traffic has increased by 3.3 percent, this alone would not account for the additional deaths.
These preliminary statistics were announced on October 5, the same day as the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the Road to Zero initiative. This coalition aims to reduce traffic deaths to zero within the next 30 years.
According to the NHTSA, it is too early to determine the exact cause of the increase in traffic deaths. Following a 10.4 percent overall increase of traffic fatalities in 2015, the largest since 1966, preliminary action is being taken by several groups, including the Road to Zero coalition.
“Every single death on our roadways is a tragedy,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind stated in the DOT’s press release. “We can prevent them. Our drive toward zero deaths is more than just a worthy goal. It is the only acceptable goal.”
Initial efforts to reduce traffic deaths will include promoting proven lifesaving strategies, such as seat belt use, truck safety, installing rumble strips and efforts to reduce drunk and distracted driving. This will be paired with the development of innovative technologies, such as self-driving cars, that aim to improve safety on the road.