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When it comes to traffic fatalities, even one death is one too many

As 2015 draws to a close, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released traffic accident statistics for the first six months of the year and, unfortunately, the numbers aren't positive. According to NHTSA, from January to June of this year, there were a total of 16,225 traffic fatalities which represents a jump of eight percent over the first six months of 2014.

Statistics for the second half of 2015 will be available sometime in 2016, but even if there was an increase in traffic fatalities this year, overall traffic deaths are trending down. In fact from 2005 to 2014, NHTSA reports that, nationally, the number of traffic fatalities decreased by one-fourth. Still, even one death is one too many and these numbers likely provide little comfort to the loved ones and families of those who lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents.

During 2014, there were a total of 21,022 traffic fatalities. When breaking down the causes of these fatal accidents, sadly, many likely could have been prevented. For example, roughly 31 percent of traffic deaths last year were the result of drivers who chose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking. Additionally, when examining fatalities among motor vehicle passengers, nearly 50 percent weren't wearing seat belts at the time of their deaths.

Speeding was also cited as a contributing factor in 28 percent of traffic deaths during 2014, while distracted driving was said to be a factor in at least 10 percent of fatal accidents. In total, the NHTSA estimates that human error contributed to "94 percent of crashes."

As Rhode Island residents prepare to ring in the New Year, it's important to remember those who lost their lives in traffic accidents and to adjust one's own driving behaviors. Drivers are reminded to abstain from drinking and driving, slow down, keep their eyes and attention on the road and to always buckle up and ensure that everyone in a vehicle is also buckled up.

Source: The Day, "Traffic fatalities drop in 2014, but may be rising in 2015," Day Marketing, Dec. 5, 2015

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