The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said its preliminary data for 2015 show that motor vehicle traffic deaths increased 7.7% from 2014, resulting in an estimated 35,200 deaths last year.
NHTSA said although the data is preliminary and requires additional analysis, its early estimate showed nine out of 10 U.S. regions had more traffic deaths in 2015 and that "the most significant increases came for pedestrians and bicyclists."
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said that 94 percent of crashes "can be tied back to a human choice or error. So we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place."
The USDOT is pressing efforts to develop automated safety technologies that it said "could greatly decrease the number of crashes." And along with the Federal Highway Administration, NHTSA said it is helping implement new safety performance measures that require states and metropolitan areas to set targets for reducing deaths among both motorized and non-motorized road users.
In March, the USDOT announced a key safety agreement with automakers requiring more than 99% of new vehicles to have automatic emergency braking standard by 2022. It is also working to require vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems on new models, which it said could help drivers avoid or mitigate 70–80% of vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers.