DOT Sees Alarming Rise in Roadway Deaths, Opens Regional Summit

"We're seeing red flags across the U.S. and we’re not waiting for the situation to develop further," said Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA's administrator. "It's time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety, and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released estimates that show a 9.3 percent increase in traffic deaths for the first nine months of 2015. The estimates come as the agency begins the first in a series of regional summits with an event in Sacramento to explore unsafe behaviors and human choices that lead to traffic deaths nationally. NHTSA says 94 percent of crashes are due to human factors.

"For decades, U.S. DOT has been driving safety improvements on our roads, and those efforts have resulted in a steady decline in highway deaths," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "But the apparent increase in 2015 is a signal that we need to do more. The safety summits that NHTSA is kicking off today in Sacramento will provide us with new approaches to add to the tried-and-true tactics that we know save lives."

An estimated 26,000 people died in traffic crashes in the first nine months of 2015, compared to 23,796 in the first nine months of 2014.

"We're seeing red flags across the U.S. and we’re not waiting for the situation to develop further," said Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA's administrator. "It's time to drive behavioral changes in traffic safety, and that means taking on new initiatives and addressing persistent issues like drunk driving and failure to wear seat belts."

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