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In PA, car crash deaths went up 7 percent in 1st half of 2015

Bad news for those of us interested in traffic safety: the number of auto accident deaths in Pennsylvania jumped 7 percent in the first half of 2015. However, the numbers elsewhere in the U.S. were even worse, according to the National Safety Council.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported not long ago that the NSC reported 552 fatalities in motor vehicle collisions in the first six months of the year. Nationwide, the total was 18,630, a 14 percent increase from the same time period in 2014.

As this suggests, Pennsylvania was far from alone in having more deadly crashes. A total of 36 states reported increases. Oregon experienced the worst increase at 59 percent.

The safety council predicts that more than 40,000 people could be killed on the road this year, if this pace holds up. That would be the first time the country reached that number since 2007.

The total number of accidents is believed to have increased even more dramatically, with 30 percent more crashes in the first half of this year.

Exactly what accounts for this apparent trend is not yet clear. The executive director of the Carnegie Mellon University Transportation Center implied that distracted driving could be a major factor. He noted that ownership of smartphones, with their highly distracting apps and texting capabilities, has tripled in the past five years.

Distracted driving is indeed a major safety crisis in the U.S., and probably contributed to the increase. In Pennsylvania, it is against the law to text and drive.

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