U.S. traffic deaths increased by nine percent in the first six months of the year, to 16,290 people, the most since 2009, according to a preliminary report by the National Highway Safety Administration.
The latest findings interrupt a 5-year continuous downward trend, which resulted in what the administration called a “historic” 60-year low in 2011. The NHTSA report does not examine causes, and a full report of analyzed data could take more than a year.
“While it’s too soon to speculate on the contributing factors of any increase in deaths on our roadways, NHTSA is closely monitoring the data,” said administration spokesperson Lynda Tran.
Reuters reports that experts are baffled by this rise and until the data is examined, they can only speculate about the causes, which may include factors such as the weather, the economy or the use of prescription or synthetic drugs.
Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, a group that wants a ban on the use of cell phones and texting while driving, commented, “We may just be going back to the way it was before”.
Harsha’s association wants convicted drunk drivers’ vehicles to use an ignition device that will force the driver to blow into an attachment in order to start.
“We’d practically eliminate alcohol impaired driving if we could get all offenders to use an ignition interlock”, said Harsha. This measure has already been implemented in 17 states.
By Andrew TsaousisStory References: Huffingtonpost/Reuters