Traffic deaths are 14 percent higher in 2015 than they were during the same period in 2014, and serious injuries are 30 percent higher, according to the National Safety Council.
From January to June, almost 19,000 people died in traffic crashes in the U.S., and more than 2.2 million were seriously injured, putting the U.S. on pace for its deadliest driving year since 2007, the safety group’s latest report says.
Accident-related costs are also up. The six-month estimated bill for traffic deaths, injuries and property damage is $152 billion – 24 percent higher than 2014.
“Follow the numbers: the trend we are seeing on our roadways is like a flashing red light – danger lies ahead,” said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Be a defensive driver and make safe decisions behind the wheel. Your life really depends on it.”
While the high death and injury rate could be due to many factors, a better economy with lower gas prices and unemployment rates contributes to increases in miles traveled, according to Hersman.
The group said average gas prices are 30 percent lower than they were in 2014 and are projected to remain stable into 2016. This generally means an increase in traffic -more people can afford to drive, and many travel longer distances and take vacations.
The traffic death report follows reports from auto insurers including Allstate, GEICO, Progressive that they are seeing a rise in claims.
The states seeing the biggest increases in traffic fatalities in the first six months of 2015 were Oregon (59% increase), Florida (29%), Georgia (26%), Minnesota (26%), Indiana (23%), and North Dakota (22%).
South Dakota (-34%), Delaware (-28%) and the District of Columbia (-23%) saw the biggest declines in fatalities.