NHTSA: strong safety response needed to a worrisome 2015

Fatality statistics relating to motor vehicle accidents that occur in California and nationally can sometimes seem a bit ironic and overwhelming.

Take this one: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32,675 people died in vehicle crashes across the country last year.

Although that number is unquestionably jarring and sad, federal regulators give it a bit of a positive spin by juxtaposing it with a fatality-related statistic from this year.

That is this: Federal safety regulators estimate that road deaths in the first half of 2015 are up by more than 8 percent from the same measuring period last year.

In a sense, that perversely makes 2014 somewhat of a banner year for roadway safety.

Of course, it truly was not, with the many thousands of fatalities being incalculably tragic and demanding intense scrutiny from safety officials, who must work with the public to improve safety outcomes.

In fact, that is precisely the focus of the NHTSA and other safety groups across the country that are working to identify accident causes and dramatically curb dangerous driving behaviors..

The NHTSA stated late last month that it will engage in a number of forums across the country next year focused upon traffic fatalities and accident-avoidance strategies.

Some of the focal points are familiar roadway foes that routinely imperil safety for drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians throughout the country.

Drunk driving is a constant nemesis, of course, and a seemingly implacable scourge that is reportedly a factor in approximately one-third of all traffic-related deaths. Speeding, too, is unsurprisingly implicated in many crashes.

So, too, is distracted driving, which the NHTSA has centrally identified as a material cause contributing to crashes in about 94 percent of all cases.

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