Preliminary data from the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 2016 may have been the deadliest year on U.S. roads since 2007.

An estimated 40,000 people were killed in vehicle-related accidents in 2016, an approximate six percent increase over the previous year, according to the NSC. That number also marks a 14 percent increase from 2014, which is the largest two-year increase in 53 years.

The numbers mark a troubling rising trend for traffic fatalities, which were on the decline through 2014.

Although the NSC says it is too early to determine the exact cause of the increase, it believes that poor driving habits such as speeding, distracted driving and drunk driving were likely to blame.

A recent NSC survey found that although 83 percent of surveyed drivers believe driving is a safety concern, most revealed to have regularly engaged in dangerous behavior behind the wheel:

  • 64 percent said they are comfortable speeding
  • 47 percent said they are comfortable texting either manually or through voice controls
  • 13 percent said they are comfortable driving while under the influence of marijuana
  • 10 percent said they are comfortable driving after having several drinks

Low gas prices and an improved economy have also been suggested as contributing factors to the rising fatality rate, as more people have more time and money to spend on the roads.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), young drivers are at the highest risk of death from car accidents. Teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than those over the age of 20.

Furthermore, 10 percent of drivers ages 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal accidents were reported as distracted, according to the NHTSA.

The NHTSA will also release its own 2016 tally of traffic fatalities for which it has already reported an eight percent jump for the first half of the year.

However, the NSC says that the numbers are not comparable as the nonprofit counts deaths that occur both on and off public roadways, including incidents such as those that occur in driveways or parking lots.

Having represented families of those killed in car accidents for decades, our Silver Spring car accident lawyers can help if you have lost a loved one because of a negligent driver. You may be entitled to compensation for many of the damages you have suffered. Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. We do not get paid unless you do.