Freeway traffic in Los Angeles
Photograph by Harvey Schwartz — Getty Images
By Mahita Gajanan and TIME
August 23, 2016

Traffic fatalities are on the rise, pointing to the deadliest Labor Day on U.S. roads in eight years, safety advocates said.

A new report from the National Safety Council, (NSC) a nonprofit group that researches ways to prevent deaths, found there were 9% more fatal motor vehicle accidents from January to June 2016 compared with the same time a year ago. The reasons behind the rise include a stronger economy, lower unemployment rates, and lower gas prices—all of which prompt people to drive more, especially during holidays, the group found.

The NSC estimated about 438 people will be killed in traffic crashes during the Labor Day holiday weekend, from Sept. 2 to Sept. 5. It is the council’s highest estimate since 2008, when the group predicted 439 deaths and 473 people actually died.

About 19,100 people have been killed in traffic incidents since January this year, and 2.2 million have been injured, according to the report.

 

“Our complacency is killing us,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC, said in the report. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”

The rise in road fatalities is a trend that began in 2014 and shows no sign of declining, according to the report.

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