The U.S. is on track to have its deadliest traffic year since 2007, the National Safety Council says, with nearly 19,000 people killed as a result of motor vehicle accidents between January and June—a 14 percent increase over the same period last year. Newsweek says the number of injuries and the costs associated with traffic accidents also rose significantly. Nearly 2.3 million serious injuries were sustained during the six-month period, up 30 percent from the first half of 2014.
The estimated costs of these crashes—including medical expenses, wage and productivity losses and property damage—increased 24 percent, to roughly $152 billion. The NSC attributes the increase to lower gas prices, increased cumulative mileage traveled and an improving economy. “One of the strongest correlations tends to be between the economy and traffic fatalities,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC. “When the economy is doing well and things are growing, we tend to see more fatalities.” She calls the trend “not just disappointing but heartbreaking.”