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.
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.
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.
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.
|Months reported||2015||2014||2013||2014 to 2015||2013 to 2015|
|Dist. of Columbia||6||10||13||18||-23%||-44%|