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Are Cheap Gas Prices To Blame For Traffic Fatalities' Increase?

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Are Cheap Gas Prices To Blame For Traffic Fatalities' Increase?

Cheaper gas and an improved economy have been blamed for the rise in number of traffic deaths last year, according to preliminary data released by U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The data from NHTSA show a 7.7 percent increase in motor vehicle traffic deaths in 2015. An estimated 35,200 people died in 2015, up from the 32,675 reported fatalities in 2014.

Related Link: July 4th Gas Prices Cheapest In 11 Years

"As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a press release.

p>"But that only explains part of the increase. Ninety-four (94) percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error, so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place."

The latest data comes after reports that U.S. auto-safety regulators are examining a first traffic death involving self-driving mode. The vehicle involved in the fatal crash was Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA)'s Model S.

Related Link: Tesla Falls 4% Early Friday; Company's Autopilot Feature Linked To Death Of Model S Owner

The U.S. Department of Transportation is pressing forward with new guidance to promote the development of automated safety technologies which could greatly decrease the number of crashes.

"In March, the Department of Transportation announced a key safety agreement with automakers requiring more than 99 percent of new vehicles to have automatic emergency braking standard by 2022," according to the press release. DoT believes that this safety technology could prevent thousands of crashes on an annual basis.

The Department is also working to require vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems in new vehicles, a technology that could aid in drivers' ability to "avoid or mitigate 70 to 80 percent of vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers."

 

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