by Mark Albert
A semi-truck and a bus collided near St. Marks, Florida, July 2, 2016; courtesy: NTSB
WASHINGTON (TVR) – The U.S. government is declaring “we must do more” to stem the rise in the number of transportation deaths, while the number of passengers killed in aviation crashed has dropped slightly, new figures show.
An additional 2,000 people died in transportation accidents in 2016, according to new numbers released by the National Transportation Safety Board just in time for the busiest travel weekend of the year: Thanksgiving. That’s an increase of 5% from 2015.
Highway fatalities, which make up 95% of all transportation deaths, increased 5.5%, the data show.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see increases in transportation fatalities,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt acknowledged in a statement.
“We can do more, we must do more, to eliminate the completely preventable accidents that claim so many lives each year.”
While all transportation deaths increased, those occurring in aviation-related incidents declined by 1%.
In 2016, aviation deaths claimed 412 lives, compared to 416 in 2015.
Nearly all of those—94%—occurred in general aviation accidents. The declining number of fatal general aviation accidents caused the accident rate to drop below one fatal accident per 100,000 flight hours for the first time in a half century, the NTSB said.
Air taxi deaths dropped from 27 in 2015 to 19 in 2016.
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The long, five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend is typically “the busiest travel weekend of the year in the United States,” the NTSB says.
More Americans were expected to travel for this Thanksgiving holiday than in a dozen years, with nearly 51 million people driving, flying, taking the train, and cruising more than 50 miles away from home, according to AAA.
The Thanksgiving travel increase was projected to be 3.3% ahead of last year and the highest volume since 2005, fueled, in part, by the lowest average holiday airfare since 2013.
Gas prices, however, were at their highest for a Thanksgiving holiday since 2014.
An additional 1.6 million Americans will take to the “roads, skies, rails and waterways,” an AAA projection issued earlier this month said.
“A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season,” Bill Sutherland at AAA said.
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