Drive Wire for August 30th, 2016: US Traffic Fatalities Make Biggest Jump Since 1966

While cars are safer than ever, distracted driving is up.

In some troubling news, the US Government has issued a call to action regarding a rise in traffic deaths in the last two years. On Monday, the Obama Administration reached out to researchers and data scientists for help in understanding why roadside fatalities jumped by 7.2% from 2014 to 2015, far outpacing a 3.5% national increase in miles travelled.

The increase in traffic deaths is the largest seen in a single year since 1966, when fatalities grew by 8.1%. While new cars are safer than ever, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx gestured at “human factors” like drunken and distracted driving as major contributors to America’s stubbornly-high rates of automotive injury and death. Drunk-driving fatalities rose 3.2% between 2014 to 2015, and deaths due to driver distraction grew by 8.8%. The number of passengers injured while not wearing a seatbelt rose 4.9%.

Clearly, while automakers can continue to improve the safety of their cars, driver behavior needs significant work, too.