35,200. The estimated number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2015 according to NHTSA. This is an increase of 7.7 percent from the year before. This is the fifth consecutive quarter of increased traffic fatalities beginning with the fourth quarter of 2014.
The largest part of this death toll is contributed to a rise in both pedestrian and bike accidents. Pedestrian deaths are up by 10 percent and bicyclist deaths are up by 13 percent. Motorcyclist fatalities are also up by 9 percent. There was also a 10 percent increase in fatalities in crashes involving drivers aged 15-20.
There is a lot of disagreement on “who is to blame”. Some blame distracted walkers, some blame distracted drivers, or lower gas prices and an increase in biking and walking overall. However, it could be a combination of all of these factors.
While driving also increased by 3.5 percent in 2015, that rise is not enough to explain the 7.7 percent jump. The southeast region, which includes Florida, had the second highest percentage increase from 2014 to 2015 at 14 percent.
This report included preliminary estimates, however sometime this year when the final set of data is available, DOT and NHTSA will issue a call to action to safety partners, state and local officials, scientists and policy experts to help find better solutions to improve safety and lower the motor vehicle accident death toll.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Every American should be able to drive, ride or walk to their destination safely every time.” So the question is what is the solution? The NHTSA promotes better car technology such as automatic braking. However, other solutions could include better bike lanes, better designed streets, better timed pedestrian crosswalk signals, etc. Do you have suggestions? Leave them in the comments.