2015 was a dangerous year for drivers.
Motor vehicle deaths increased by 8%, the largest year-over-year spike in 50 years, according to preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council.
An estimated 38,300 people were killed on US roads and 4.4 million were seriously injured.
“2015 likely was the deadliest driving year since 2008,” the report added.
As for why there may have been a spike in motor vehicle deaths in 2015, the NSC suggests:
“While many factors likely contributed to the fatality increase, a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates are likely at the core of the trend. Average gas prices were 28% lower in 2015 than in 2014 and are projected to continue dropping this year, making driving more affordable for many Americans.”
In other words, more people have jobs and gas prices are lower, which makes it cheaper for more people to drive longer.
Miles driven in 2015 shot higher as gas prices fell with the number of miles driven rising 3.6% over the last 12-months as of November — the most recent reading for this figure — the fastest increase since July 1997.
And this is not the first time that cheaper gas prices have been cited for an increase in incidents on the road.
Back in August, insurance company Allstate stated in its second-quarter earnings report that its lower earnings per share reflected “increased frequency and severity of auto accidents.“
“The increase in auto accidents is broad-based by state, risk class, rating plans, and the maturity of the business, and consequently appears to be driven by external factors,” the company added.
Currently, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in the US is around $1.72, according to AAA. By comparison, last year the average price for the same gallon was $2.27, while in 2013 drivers paid an average $3.49 per gallon.
Lower gas prices follow lower oil prices and right now West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the US benchmark prices, is trading near $31.50 per barrel, while Brent crude — the international benchmark — is trading around $35.
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