WASHINGTON - The government says traffic deaths surged about 8 percent in the first nine months of last year, continuing an alarming upward spiral that began in late 2014.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the sharp increase comes at the same time Americans are putting more miles on the road than ever.
But the rise in deaths is outpacing the increase in travel. Vehicle miles traveled in the first nine months of 2016 increased about 3 percent.
Experts believe the increased travel is a result of an improved economy and low gas prices.
The fatality increase is especially concerning because it has occurred at time when automakers are equipping more cars with sophisticated safety technology like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.