We begin the weekend on a sobering note. New preliminary federal data shows that U.S. traffic deaths are rising faster than they have in years. According to the new NHTSA data, traffic deaths rose nine percent in the first nine months of 2015 compared to the year before. It is also the highest level since the same period in 2008.
Researchers say it’s too soon to say why traffic deaths are up, although lower gas prices could be part of the reason since it meant more people were on the road last year. But there is no official explanation as of yet.
The NHTSA says 94 percent of crashes result from human error, and that it’s working to address driver behavior. It is also pushing self-driving technology which it says will improve safety.
The three regions of the country with the biggest increases in traffic deaths over 2014 are:
Pacific Northwest: +20% : Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, Montana and Idaho
Southeast: +16%: Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina
New England: +14%: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont