Why are traffic deaths increasing? 2016 on track to be even deadlier than last year

According to a recently released report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 35,092 motor vehicle crash deaths in 2015. That’s a 7.4% increase from 2014 and the largest increase since 1966. 2016 is already on its way to being worse, with an average of 100 deaths every day so far, according to the National Safety Council.

Vehicle safety technology has improved significantly in the past 50 years, but now we also have smartphones and texting. That’s not the only reason experts say driving is now more deadly. Cheaper gas prices, a stronger economy, and climate change all contribute because each factor means more people on the road and more chances for accidents.

When it costs less to fill our tanks, we pile in for a trip. When there are more jobs, more people drive to work. And as the planet heats up and winters get milder, bicyclists and pedestrians stay out and about.

If we can’t reduce the number of cars on the road, then we have to change our behaviors behind the wheel. Fatalities due to human error are caused by distracted driving (10.5%), speeding (28.8%), not wearing seatbelts (29.8%), and drunk driving (30.9%). We have to do better, or we all risk becoming another statistic.