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National traffic safety news: mixed results, with an alarming trend

In the realm of traffic accidents, a decidedly mixed state of affairs -- let's call it a good-news, bad-news scenario -- seems to be operative in the United States, at least from a national perspective.

On the one hand, and as reported in a recent media article chronicling motor vehicle fatalities across the country, deadly crashes have fallen by a significant number since the turn of the century. In fact, the fatality rate presently is a full 22 percent plummet from 2000, which is decidedly good news on the traffic safety front.

On the other hand, though, relevant crash statistics also reveal a quite disturbing trend that is now playing out with some force and over a sustained period.

And that is this: Reportedly, traffic fatalities nationally have now been on a steady upswing for four quarters in a row, which is truly dismal news.

Moreover, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently noted that fatality totals most recently measured for last year were greatly exceeding those from 2014. The above-cited media report states that, if what regulators were noting for many months in 2015 is similarly observed for the last few months of the year (some data are still forthcoming), the fatality increase from 2014 to 2015 "would be the largest percentage spike from one year to the next since 1946."

Reportedly, there is a "geographic component" to fatality risk. NHTSA-supplied data show, for example, that the odds of dying in a vehicle crash are comparatively lower in California than in some other areas.

Crash-related numbers show that in the aggregate, though, California motorists certainly confront an appreciable amount of roadway risk.

Nationally, approximately 26,000 motorists died in vehicle accidents during the first nine months of 2015.

As NHTSA officials note, that number simply must be improved upon.

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