Highway deaths rise 8.1% in the first half of 2015 to 13-year high

Updated Nov 27, 2015

highway trafficLower gas prices have meant more people out on the highways. Unfortunately, that’s also meant more deaths on the roads.

A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that highway deaths rose 8.1 percent in the first half of the year. It marked the highest quarterly increase in 13 years.

The rise also marked the end of a downward trend in highway fatalities after the fatality rate hit a new low in 2014, according to the NHTSA. The fatality rate was at a record-low of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled last year.

“These numbers are a call to action,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “Everyone with a responsibility for road safety—the federal, State and local governments, law enforcement, vehicle manufacturers, safety advocates and road users – needs to reassess our efforts to combat threats to safety. USDOT will redouble our efforts on safety and we expect our partners to do the same.”

The NHTSA and the USDOT are working on new initiatives to curtail highway deaths. And the NHTSA will host a series of regional meetings and a final nationwide meeting in Washington D.C. next year in order to address issues like drunk, drugged, distracted and drowsy driving as well as speeding and the use of safety features.

“Behavioral safety programs are the heart of NHTSA’s safety mission,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. “While great public attention is focused on safety defects and recalls, and rightfully so, it is time as a nation to reinvigorate the fight against drunk and drugged driving, distraction and other risks that kill thousands every year, and time for State and local governments to reassess whether they are making the right policy choices to improve highway safety.”