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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For years, traffic deaths in the U.S. were dropping but recently fatalities on our roads increased.
Thirteen people died in March when a pickup slammed into a mini-bus filled with members of a Texas church returning from a retreat.
Witnesses said the driver of the pickup admitted he was texting and they saw him swerving before the crash.
The National Safety Council says those deaths were among the more than 18 thousand people killed on U.S. roads in the first six months of this year.
That’s similar to the same time in 2016 which saw a major jump over the previous two years.
“Every day we lose 100 people on our roadways. This is the equivalent of losing 2 regional jets every day,” said President and CEO of the National Safety Council Debbie Hersman.
Hersman says one reason is people are driving more because of low gas prices and an improving economy but our changing behavior behind the wheel is also a major factor.
“Our vehicles are safer than ever. We have advanced technology. We can survive crashes because of better design and engineering but what we’re seeing that we really haven’t become safer drivers,” said Hersman.
The council says distracted driving related crashes are up nine percent. That along with drunk driving and speeding are the top three causes of traffic fatalities.
“We know that these are things that we can prevent. We as drivers need to have more discipline and we need to get rid of that complacency behind the wheel,” said Hersman.
That could help lower the number of deaths which is on pace to be about 40,000 this year.
That National Safety Council says nearly 2 million people were injured in accidents during the first six months of the year.