Data released by the National Safety Council indicates that automotive accidents claimed as many as 40,000 lives in the U.S. in 2016, an increase of 6 percent over 2015 and 14 percent over 2014. The two-year escalation is the highest jump in 53 years.
In addition to the estimated number of fatalities, the NSC report maintains that 4.6 million people required medical attention as a result of roadway incidents in 2016, up 7 percent over 2015.
The combined statistics suggest that 2016 may end up being the deadliest year for motor vehicle crashes since 2007, with the cost to society amounting to $432 billion.
Based on a survey released by the NSC this month, drivers engaging in high-risk activities while driving are contributing to the number of crashes.
While 83 percent of respondents indicated that driving is a safety concern, 64 percent say they are comfortable speeding, 47 percent admit to texting while driving, 13 percent feel that they are capable of driving under the influence of marijuana and 10 percent say that they drive after drinking excessively.
In an effort to help reduce traffic fatalities, the NSC is advocating a number of measures including standardizing automotive safety technologies, extending bans on the use of cell phones to include all drivers and making ignition interlocks mandatory for convicted drunk drivers.