2016 traffic deaths jump to highest level in nearly a decade

(AP) – A leading safety organization says traffic fatalities jumped last year, pushing deaths on U.S. roads to their highest level in nearly a decade.

The National Safety Council says fatalities rose 6 percent in 2016, reaching an estimated 40,200 deaths. The group gets its data from states. The last time there were more than 40,000 fatalities in a single year was in 2007, just before the economy tanked.

The increase came as Americans drove more last year – a 3 percent increase in total miles. The council cited continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy as key factors.

Deborah Hersman is the council's president. She says Americans have come to accept large numbers of traffic deaths instead of than taking action to prevent them.

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