U.S. traffic deaths have spiked eight percent since the first of the year–this according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The new estimate comes as nearly42 million Americans are expected to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA.
The numbers are particularly alarming since traffic fatalities decreased in 2014, but with gas prices the lowest they’ve been since 2008, Americans aren’t hesitating to get behind the wheel.
While the sheer volume of drivers is contributing to the rise in traffic deaths, it’s not the sole cause.
According to the NHTSA, human decisions are responsible for 94 percent of all crashes.
“At the end of the day, the individual with the wheel in their hands is the greatest safety measure that we have,” Bill Whitfield, MoDOT Safety Ops Manager told ABC17.
Additionally, the Missouri Department of Transportation said drivers are simply driving too fast.
“These higher speed crashes are going to be less survivable as well,” Whitfield told ABC17. “The law of physics comes into play.”
Doctors stressed that motor vehicle crashes are typically the No. 1 cause of injuries in Columbia.
“The majority of injuries we see are usually because folks are not paying attention. They’re driving too fast for conditions or they’re doing something–whether it be intoxication or something that will almost make the accident a predictable thing.” Dr. Jeffrey Coughenour, Trauma Medical Director for M.U. told ABC17.
In fact, that’s why doctors call them crashes–not accidents.
“I think we all take driving for granted. It’s one of those almost second nature kind of things,” Dr. Coughenour said.
But with the increase of drivers on the road, it’s imperative to pay attention.