According to the Washington Post, nearly 18,000 people have been killed on U.S. roadways between January and June. This is an increase of more than 10% from 2015’s statistics.  Many people don’t think about this connection, but as the recession begins to fade and more people return to work, there are more people on the roadways and thus more traffic accidents.

The National Transportation Department and the National Safety Council have established a “Road to Zero” coalition to reduce traffic fatalities to zero in the next 30 years.  According to statistic, 94% of traffic fatalities resulted from driver error.  A growing trend has been distracted drivers, more specifically drivers who are distracted by their cell phones.  If this trend continues, by the end of 2016, we will see the biggest increase in traffic fatalities in the past 50 years.

In the next 3 years, the Federal government will distribute $3 million in seed money to begin the process of getting groups involved around the country to help educate the masses about driver safety.  Some examples of what the coalition wants to push are awareness of wearing seat belts, eliminating drunk driving and eliminating distracted driving.

“We’re making a lot of progress with seat belts, a lot of progress on drunk driving,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which has enlisted in the effort. “It can’t just be belts and booze. We have to talk about distracted driving. We have to talk about drowsy driving.”

There is also a slight roadblock to these efforts.  Congress last year passed transportation legislation that required that all highway safety improvement funding be spent on infrastructure.  At a time when highway fatalities are increasing at an alarming rate, this legislation essentially makes a huge cut to behavioral highway safety funding.

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