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National Safety Council says traffic deaths up 14 percent since 2014

Increase marks steepest 2-year spike since 1964

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Motor vehicle deaths increased 14 percent since 2014 -- the steepest two-year hike since 1964, according to a new report from the National Safety Council.

Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said that to eliminate these deaths, traffic safety professionals, law enforcement and legislators need to have a clear understanding of why crashes are happening and that good data records are needed to fill in the gaps in knowledge.

Hersman said that, unfortunately, a new National Safety Council report, slated for release on Wednesday, found that many states are not collecting critical data. Without this data, it will be difficult for states and the federal governments to properly allocate funds and manpower to the issues that need the most attention, such as distracted driving, drowsy driving and drugged driving.

“No state is capturing whether or not the vehicle is on auto-pilot or automated systems,” Hersman said. “We’ve got to begin to capture those things. Our vehicles are changing and our world is changing. The data we collect has to change so we can make better decisions and better investments.”

The NSC examined car crash reports from 50 states and Washington D.C. to determine what data states are tracking, and some states fare much better than others, particularly when it comes to recording cellphone use, new teen driver licenses and the presence of certain drugs such as marijuana.

According to the NSC, every 8 seconds someone is seriously injured in a car crash, and someone is killed every 15 minutes.

Preliminary estimates by the NSC shows that motor vehicle deaths are at their highest level in nearly a decade. This increase comes in spite of stronger laws and safety advancements to both roads and vehicles.

The NSC said distracted driving tends to be blamed for the rise in deaths. Hersman said distraction is notoriously under-reported, therefore the problem could be even more prevalent than currently understood.