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2/18/2016 12:55:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Traffic Deaths Jump by Most Since 1966, Safety Group Says

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News

Traffic fatalities increased in 2015 by an amount not seen in 50 years, alarming road safety advocates. The trend in Texas, which has the deadliest highways in the country, remained largely unchanged.

The National Safety Council on Feb. 17 announced that preliminary analysis showed 38,300 roadway deaths in the United States last year. That was an increase of 8% from 2014, the highest year-to-year jump since 1966.

"These numbers are serving notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted," said Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the safety council and former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Texas led the nation with 3,490 deaths on roads and highways. Despite California having roughly 12 million more residents, it had 240 fewer traffic deaths.

 Texas’ fatality trend was stable, however. The number of deaths increased 1% from 2014 to 2015 and 4% from 2013 to 2015.

“There’s a lot of improvement (needed) for Texas,” Hersman said, noting the state lacks any statewide bans on distracted driving and Houston is frequently among the top metro areas for alcohol-related crashes. “But, it didn’t have the increases we saw in other states.”

The report underscores a recent push in Houston to improve traffic safety. A report by Houston Tomorrow, which advocates for less development of road capacity, found that Houston had more roadway deaths than New York, which is roughly four times Houston’s size.

Houston’s economic growth has meant more vehicles on the road, the local analysis concluded, and a corresponding jump in traffic fatalities.

The same bleak conclusion was painted by the National Safety Council report. As vehicle miles traveled have increased in the U.S. and gasoline prices dropped, Hersman said, roadway deaths jumped.

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By Dug Begley
Houston Chronicle


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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