Transportation fatalities are on the rise in the U.S. and the growing number of highway deaths is largely to blame for the uptick.
Ahead of the busy Thanksgiving travel period this weekend, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released new data on Tuesday showing that 2,030 – or 5 percent – more people died in transportation incidents last year than the previous year.
A total of 39,339 people lost their lives in transportation incidents in 2016, compared to 37,309 who died in 2015. Highway fatalities accounted for 95 percent of all transportation fatalities last year.
Road fatalities in the U.S. have been growing at an alarming rate over the past few years, partly due to an improving economy, lower fuel prices and more distractions for drivers. U.S. highway deaths increased from 35,485 in 2015 to 37,461 in 2016, according to the NTSB.
Deaths in the marine and railroad sectors also slightly increased last year, while aviation fatalities slightly decreased.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see increases in transportation fatalities,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. “We can do more, we must do more, to eliminate the completely preventable accidents that claim so many lives each year.”
“Implementation of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements has the greatest potential to reverse this alarming trend,” he added.