Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths in the United States were 9 percent higher through the first six months of 2016 than in 2015.
Unfortunately, that national trend is a reflection of what is happening on Vermont highways.
As of August 30, 41 people have lost their lives on Vermont’s highways. That includes 26 vehicle operators, 10 passengers and five pedestrians.
The 41 deaths in Vermont in the first eight months of this year compare to 33 deaths in the same time period last year and only 28 Vermont highway deaths in 2014.
Vermont’s 41 highway fatalities are comprised of 26 vehicle operators, 10 passengers, and 5 pedestrians.
Included in the 36 vehicle operators and passengers, are 9 motorcyclists (8 drivers and 1 passenger).
Of the 26 motor vehicle drivers and passengers, 14, or an astounding 53.8% were not belted.
Drugs, including alcohol, were responsible for the deaths of 22 of the 24 vehicle operators, or another astounding 70.8%!!!!
On the national scene, more than 19,000 people have been killed on U.S. roads since January, and 2.2 million people were seriously injured. The total estimated cost of these deaths and injuries is $205 billion!!
The upward trend began in late 2014, continued through 2015, and shows no signs of letting up. Last winter, the National Safety Council issued its largest year-over-year percentage increase in 50 years, when it estimated fatalities had jumped 8 percent in 2015 compared to 2014.
States that have been particularly hard hit since 2014, the start of the upward trend, are Florida (43%), Georgia (34%), Indiana (33%), California (31%), North Carolina (26%), Illinois (24%) and Kentucky (24%).
While many factors likely contributed to the fatality increase, a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates are at the core of the trend. Average gas prices for the first six months of this year were 16 percent lower than last year, pushing a 3.3 percent increase in the number of miles driven.