Deadly automobile crashes have surged dramatically in the first half of 2015 as Americans hit the roads in record numbers, in part due to a stronger economy and more affordable fuel, reports the Los Angeles Times. The nonprofit National Safety Council says traffic deaths had jumped 14% compared with the same period in 2014, a year in which an estimated 32,675 people died.
The increase bucks a longer-term decline in traffic deaths over the last half-century, even as the number of drivers on the road has doubled. Cars have become safer and traffic laws stricter. But Americans drove a record 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of 2015, according to the Federal Highway Administration, beating the previous mark set in 2007. Gas prices this year also hit their lowest Labor Day price in more than a decade, with the average price per gallon more than $1 cheaper than last year, according to AAA.