Metro

Car crashes killed 149 people in Mass. in first six months of 2015

Traffic filled Exeter Street in the Back Bay in June.

Brian Snyder/REUTERS

Traffic filled Exeter Street in the Back Bay in June.

Motor vehicle crashes killed 149 people on Massachusetts roads during the first six months of this year, a marginal increase from the same time period last year, but a marked increase from 2013, a new study has found.

The death tally was 2 percent higher than the 146 killed in the same period in 2014, but 21 percent higher than the 123 people killed in 2013.

Advertisement

Nationally, there were 18,600 driving-related deaths in the United States through the first half of this year, or 14 percent more than the same period last year, putting the country’s roadways on pace for their deadliest year since 2007, according to a report released Monday by the National Safety Council, a nonprofit created by Congress to promote safety.

“Follow the numbers: the trend we are seeing on our roadways is like a flashing red light — danger lies ahead,” said a statement from the council’s president and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman.

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

She urged motorists to “be a defensive driver and make safe decisions behind the wheel. Your life really depends on it.”

The council said that an improving economy, shrinking unemployment rates, and gas prices may be contributing to an increase in deaths because those elements all typically lead to more traffic, as more people commute to work and can afford to drive farther and take vacations.

On the positive side, traffic deaths tied to drunken driving and teen driving have both decreased; seat belt use is up; and cars feature more safety technology.

Advertisement

But at the same time some states have raised speed limits recently and crashes linked to distracted driving have become more common due to motorists fumbling with cell phones and other handheld devices, the council said.

The report did not include figures for July and August which historically are two of the worst months for traffic deaths.

The council also reported that serious traffic injuries were up nationwide by 30 percent during the same period to 2.2 million, and costs from injuries and property damage were up 24 percent to $152 billion.

Driving deaths by state
Counts are for the first six months of each year, unless otherwise noted
Months reported 2015 2014 2013 2014 to 2015 2013 to 2015
Alabama 6 381 412 422 -8% -10%
Alaska 6 27 32 24 -16% 13%
Arizona 6 451 382 419 18% 8%
Arkansas 6 237 207 249 14% -5%
California 6 1,566 1,302 1,471 20% 6%
Colorado 6 236 200 202 18% 17%
Connecticut 6 95 119 116 -20% -18%
Delaware 6 47 65 50 -28% -6%
Dist. of Columbia 6 10 13 18 -23% -44%
Florida 6 1,441 1,114 1,172 29% 23%
Georgia 6 657 522 573 26% 15%
Hawaii 6 52 54 61 -4% -15%
Idaho 6 84 79 81 6% 4%
Illinois 6 442 399 475 11% -7%
Indiana 6 356 289 328 23% 9%
Iowa 6 134 133 137 1% -2%
Kansas 5 125 151 126 -17% -1%
Kentucky 6 326 300 321 9% 2%
Louisiana 6 330 275 321 20% 3%
Maine 6 62 60 53 3% 17%
Maryland 6 224 188 217 19% 3%
Massachusetts 6 149 146 123 2% 21%
Michigan 6 409 407 380 0% 8%
Minnesota 6 187 149 158 26% 18%
Mississippi 2 70 63 77 11% -9%
Missouri 6 383 348 333 10% 15%
Montana 6 72 79 103 -9% -30%
Nebraska 6 109 108 97 1% 12%
Nevada 6 147 134 126 10% 17%
New Hampshire 6 38 38 52 0% -27%
New Jersey 6 245 267 250 -8% -2%
New Mexico 6 131 169 135 -22% -3%
New York 6 430 - - - -
North Carolina 6 634 531 593 19% 7%
North Dakota 6 61 50 67 22% -9%
Ohio 6 499 425 439 17% 14%
Oklahoma 6 303 319 263 -5% 15%
Oregon 6 204 128 136 59% 50%
Pennsylvania 6 552 518 553 7% 0%
Rhode Island 6 21 23 19 -9% 11%
South Carolina 6 445 367 344 21% 29%
South Dakota 6 44 67 48 -34% -8%
Tennessee 6 437 453 442 -4% -1%
Texas 6 1,643 1,668 1,667 -1% -1%
Utah 6 129 108 83 19% 55%
Vermont 6 19 17 25 12% -24%
Virginia 6 344 308 335 12% 3%
Washington 6 235 225 191 4% 23%
West Virginia 4 69 66 88 5% -22%
Wisconsin 6 254 214 228 19% 11%
Wyoming 6 66 65 46 2% 43%
TOTAL U.S. 6 18,630 16,400 16,617 14% 12%
SOURCE: National Safety Council

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.