Traffic Fatalities in US Reach Highest Level Since 2007

Cars may be getting more advanced safety features, but U.S. traffic-related deaths are on the rise.

According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 40,200 deaths occurred last year on the road, a rise of 6 percent. It’s the first time since 2007 there were more than 40,000 fatalities. The increase likely comes from the fact that Americans drove more miles last year, a 3-percent increase in total miles. The National Safety Council attributes the increase to lower gas prices and an improving economy.

The increase in traffic-related fatalities in the past two years is the sharpest increase in 53 years.

SEE ALSO: Traffic Fatalities Up 10.4 Percent in First Half of 2016

The estimated annual mileage death rate in 2016 was 1.25 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles, an increase of 3 percent compared to 2015.

It’s worth noting that the National Safety Council’s fatality estimates differ slightly from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The government only counts deaths that occur on public roads, while the council includes fatalities in parking lots, driveways and private roads.

NHTSA recently reported traffic fatalities jumped 10.4 percent in the first half of 2016.