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Traffic Deaths On The Rise In 2016

Police are still investigating the cause of a head-on collision that killed a 20-year-old Concord woman on Branchview Drive earlier this month. According to police, the accident occurred near Brafford's Greenhouses when another driver crossed the center line and struck the victim's vehicle head on - the vehicle speeds, skid marks and distance after impact still require further investigation.

According to a friend of the victim's family, there have already been five or six other traffic fatalities in this area - and at least three crosses have been placed in the ground here in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in collisions along this stretch of road.

Over 17,000 Lives Lost

Unfortunately, this type of incident has become increasingly common in the first half of 2016. According to a recent report issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, traffic deaths increased 10.4 percent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2015.

In all, an estimated 17,775 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes from January through June of 2016 (up from 16,100 deaths during the same period in 2015). This equals approximately 98 traffic deaths every day - or 4 deaths every hour.

It also represents the seventh consecutive quarter that the rate of fatalities has increased as compared to the corresponding quarters in previous years.

The DOT hasn't identified the reason for the sharp increase in fatalities. Although vehicle miles traveled in the first six months of 2016 increased by 50.5 billion miles, the agency said it is "too soon to attribute contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways."

The Road To Zero

Perhaps ironically, the news of increased road fatalities came on the heels of an announcement that several agencies were coming together to launch the "Road to Zero" coalition. The stated goal of the coalition is to end fatalities on the nation's roadways within the next 30 years.

The collation will initially focus on reducing road fatalities by continuing to spread the word about proven lifesaving strategies - strategies such as advocating seat belt use, promoting truck safety and installing rumble strips. The DOT has also committed $3 million over the next three years to provide grants to organizations that work on lifesaving programs.

Automated vehicles and advanced technologies also figure to play prominently in the goal of zero traffic deaths. According to the agency, an important principle of the effort will be to "find ways to ensure that inevitable human mistakes do not result in fatalities."

Tell us below what you think is to blame for this increase in traffic fatalities in the first half of 2016? And is it realistic to aim for zero traffic fatalities by 2046?

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145 Union Street South
Concord, NC 28025

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