9 out 10 drivers can safe and cautious but it is the other one driver that causes accidents and injuries when driving. Safety experts are trying to figure out just why the U.S. traffic fatality rate increased in the first half of 2015 versus the same period a year ago, but inevitably, choices drivers and passengers made, like drunk, drowsy or distracted driving, played a big role, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation and its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The first-half estimate is that 16,225 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, an increase of 8.1 percent versus a year ago, NHTSA said last week. An estimate for the first nine months of 2015 is due in late December, the agency said.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called the high number of fatalities “a call to action,” in a written statement.
NHTSA last week announced it would hold a series of meetings around the country in early 2016 to discuss so-called “behavioral safety programs.” That is, dangers that drivers and passengers pose to themselves, in addition to the agency’s emphasis on safety defects in autos or in highway design.
Besides impaired or distracted driving, other “behavioral” examples include speeding, and failing to wear seat belts or use child seats. NHTSA is also looking into new ways to protect pedestrians and cyclists, the agency said.