As technology improves year after year, vehicles have continued to introduce more features aimed at improving highway safety. Increased and improved airbags offer improved protection in the event of a crash while backup cameras, blind spot monitoring, and hands-free controls have attempted to help keep a driver focused on the road while giving them the most information possible. With all of these advancements in technology, it would make sense that as cars become safer and more aware of their surroundings, the number of highway accidents would drop year after year. But that’s not the case according to a new study which found that 2015 had the highest number of traffic crashes in decades.

Last year the number of people who died in auto accidents reached 35,092, which is a 7.2% increase over 2014. While the rise in deaths can mainly be attributed to distracted driving, drunk driving, and not wearing seat belts, an increase in the number of drivers on the road has also led to an increased chance of being in an accident despite improved safety features. While this increase in deaths may not seem huge, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is issuing a call to action in an attempt to get researchers, safety experts, data scientist, and the public to help find ways to prevent the number from rising in future years, but with over 19,000 people killed in the first half of 2016 the numbers still seem to be climbing.

With traffic deaths on the rise, it’s important to remember to be aware of your surroundings and fellow drivers while on the road. Driving defensively instead of offensively can help you anticipate another driver’s impending error and avoid a collision, saving both yourself and the other driver from harm. When getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, make sure your driving is your first priority. Don’t try to multitask while driving, always wear your seatbelt, and never get behind the wheel of a car after you’ve been drinking. Following these simple rules and being aware can help you take the first step to protecting yourself and other driver’s from harm, reducing the number of traffic related deaths. Safer highways start with drivers like you.


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