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By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Motor vehicle traffic deaths increased 7.7 percent last year compared to 2014, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). An estimated 35,200 people died in 2015, up from the 32,675 reported fatalities a year earlier, with the most significant increases among pedestrians and bicyclists.

“As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles,” NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said in a news release. “But that only explains part of the increase. Ninety-four 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.”

Poor road conditions and obsolete road designs are also a factor in many motor vehicle crashes. In addition to human loss, these crashes also represent a significant national cost in lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage.

View NHTSA’s preliminary report.