Early stats show an increase in traffic deaths in many states

5 January 2016

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer

Traffic deaths increased in many states last year, according to preliminary traffic fatality data for 2015.

More than 850 people were killed on Missouri roads in 2015, an 11.4 percent increase from the previous year, according to a Missouri Department of Transportation news release. Last year’s traffic fatalities were the most since 2009.

Nearly two-thirds of those killed were not wearing seat belts. Half of those killed without a seat belt were ejected from the vehicle. Speeding, driver inattention and impaired driving were the leading causes of traffic deaths, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Nevada’s Department of Transportation is reporting that 321 traffic fatalities occurred in 2015, 30 more than the previous year. The Silver State’s all-time high was in 2006 with 432 traffic deaths.

Traffic deaths in Nevada are showing signs of decline when accounting for miles traveled. There was an average of 1.54 deaths for every 100 million miles driven in 2008. That number was reduced to 1.13 deaths every 100 million miles traveled in 2013.

A Wisconsin Department of Transportation press release reveals 556 traffic fatalities in 2015, a 13 percent increase from 2014. WisDOT indicated the state is one of approximately 35 states that are reporting an increase in traffic deaths for 2015.

Although Wisconsin experienced a double-digit increase, WisDOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb noted the 494 deaths in 2014 was the lowest annual total in 71 years. Last year’s total was six more than the five-year average.

Minnesota, Montana and Ohio are among the many other states announcing an increase in traffic fatalities in 2015. Nationwide, drivers are logging in more miles than they have in years, which may explain the increase in deaths state-by-state.

The Christmas/New Year holiday season experienced the most travelers ever just a few weeks ago, according to AAA. Thanksgiving and Fourth of July experienced the most holiday travelers since 2007. Labor Day had the most travelers since 2008, and Memorial Day saw more people on the road during the holiday in a decade.

Statistics for traffic deaths are preliminary at this point. More detailed and accurate numbers should be available later in the year.

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