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What is being done about the 10% rise in traffic deaths in 2016?

The number of traffic deaths on U.S. highways is increasing at an alarming rate. On October 5, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced preliminary statistics for the first half of 2016. An estimated 17,775 people died in car crashes from January through June 2016, a 10.4 percent increase from 16,100 fatalities for the first part of 2015. This follows news from earlier this year that the 2015 marked the largest uptick in traffic fatalities since 1966.

The Department of Transportation is taking these statistics very seriously and has formed a collaboration called the Road to Zero coalition. It includes input from the NHTSA, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Safety Council. They have an ambitious goal: To reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero within the next 30 years.

"Our vision is simple - zero fatalities on our roads," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the DOT's press release. "We know that setting the bar for safety to the highest possible standard requires commitment from everyone to think differently about safety - from drivers to industry, safety organizations and government at all levels."

The Road to Zero initiative will start with a focus on the promotion of existing proven lifesaving strategies, including seat belt use, rumble strip installations, truck safety and programs to reduce drunk and distracted driving. The DOT has dedicated $1 million each year for the next three years to provide grants to organizations that promote lifesaving programs. Additionally, the coalition will support the development of new technologies that improve infrastructure design, vehicle technology, enforcement and behavior safety.

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