Traffic officials say car accident fatalities are on the rise

According to preliminary data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of car accident fatalities is increasing.

While official data on highway deaths in 2015 will not be available until late in 2016, preliminary figures have been released for the first quarter of 2015, showing that there were approximately 7,500 deaths nationwide during that period, an increase from approximately 6,850 deaths in the same period in 2014.

Some of the increase in fatalities is simply due to more traffic. A generally strong economy means more people are commuting, and a corresponding increase in fatal accidents is expected. However, traffic volume increased only 3.8 percent from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, while highway deaths rose 9.5 percent.

The larger increase in traffic deaths compared to miles driven means that the fatality rate has increased. Last year, the rate for the U.S. was 0.99 traffic fatalities per million miles driven. For the first three months of 2015, the rate was 1.04 fatalities per million miles driven.

Overall, traffic deaths have been on a steady decline over the past few decades. The fatality rate 10 years ago was 1.32 in the first three months of 2005.