The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released numbers showing that traffic deaths rose in the first half of 2016, as compared to the same period in 2015.  Although the numbers also indicate about 50.5 billion more miles were driven (an increase of 3.3%), it doesn’t account for the rise in deaths (an increase of over 10%).

In the first half of 2016, the death toll was 17,775 vs. 16,100 for the same period in 2015.

A spokesperson for NHTSA said, “It is too soon to attribute contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways.”

The recent statistics are nothing short of dire considering the year 2015 had shown the largest increase in traffic fatalities since 1996. And, since the final months of 2014, traffic fatalities have now increased seven consecutive quarters when compared with corresponding previous years.

These latest statistics were released just as federal officials announced a launch of ‘Road to Zero’, which is a coalition of the NHTSA, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Safety Council, whose goal will be to an end all traffic, bicycle, and pedestrian fatalities within the next 30 years.  The Department of Transportation has earmarked $1 million per year for the next three years in grants to organizations assisting the coalition’s efforts with lifesaving programs.

“Our vision is simple – zero fatalities on our roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Many states and cities have adopted “zero” fatality visions since Sweden first adopted the idea “Vision Zero” in 1997.