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Why are traffic fatalities increasing?

In most years, the overall number of people killed in car and motor vehicle accidents decreases. Part of the reason for this is advancing safety technology, including air bags, child car seats and back-up cameras, which help reduce the risk of death when involved in an accident. And both state and federal agencies have promoted safe driving behaviors through targeted advertising. State laws have become ever stricter for drivers who use alcohol or drugs or drive distracted.

So why did the number of fatal accidents increase in 2015?

Last year saw a nearly 10 percent rise in fatal accidents

According to recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first nine months of 2015 proved to be deadlier than any year since 2008. The full-year data for 2015 will not be released until the spring.

The NHTSA estimates 26,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents from January through August of 2015. Less than 24,000 fatalities occurred for the same time period in 2014.

Why is it more dangerous on American roads today?

There is an unfortunate correlation between a growing economy and the number of injuries and fatalities in motor vehicle accidents. The more commuters there are, the more people become injured; it is not necessarily that behavior or technology has changed dramatically.

But a pure by-the-numbers correlation is not the whole story.

"We're seeing red flags across the U.S." said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in a press release issued with the data. However, neither he nor any other NHTSA spokesperson speculated on the reasons for the increased fatality rate for traffic deaths in 2015. However, the NHTSA is launching several safety campaigns targeted at the human error behind most fatal accidents.

The "human factors" behind 94 percent of all fatal accidents

Unfortunately, many of the behaviors that have typically endangered lives on American roadways remain a problem. For example, drunk driving is still involved in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes in the U.S.

Distracted driving is also still a problem, as is the failure to wear seat belts. Other human factors, such as speeding and drowsy driving, also account for a significant percentage of fatal accidents.

It is difficult to imagine a time when no one loses their lives unnecessarily in a car accident. Yet strides have been made in the past at reducing the devastating toll fatal accidents take on families. Hopefully, 2016 will show a return to the norm and an overall reduction in fatal accidents.

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