TRAFFIC DEATHS * USA: Up sharply in first half of the year
* New York - U.S. traffic deaths rose 10.4%, raising fresh concerns about distracted driving
--- U.S. traffic fatalities surged in the first six months of 2016, raising fresh concerns over distracted driving and highlighting efforts to equip vehicles with technologically advanced safety gear at an accelerated pace... Traffic deaths rose 10.4% in the first half, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Wednesday, a steep increase following a surprising uptick in fatalities last year... The U.S. logged more than 17,700 traffic fatalities in the first six months of 2016, regulators estimated... While traffic fatalities are growing at an abnormal clip, absolute levels remain lower than they were a decade ago, when cars and trucks had far less safety gear. In the first half of 2006, for instance, 20,500 fatalities were recorded. The U.S. is currently experiencing a sustained stretch of low gasoline prices and employment gains, which tend to increase traffic and the risk of fatal crashes... Still, more than 35,000 traffic deaths were reported on American roads in 2015, the largest increase since 1966 and the first uptick in a few years... Drivers in their 20s represent 24% of those in fatal crashes, but are 29% of distracted drivers and 39% of distracted drivers using cellphones...
(Photo: AP - Road fatalities are on par to exceed the highest previous annual record of 35,000 in 1966, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration) -- NY, USA - The WSJ, by JOHN D. STOLL and MIKE SPECTOR - Oct. 5, 2016