Yikes- traffic deaths were up 8.1% in the first half of 2015 and officials say smartphones could be to

According to Reuters, statistics released this weekend showed deaths rising to 16,225 between January and June. While the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says there’s not enough information yet to determine how big of a role phones play in this data, Mark Rosekind says the increase in phone use is so significant that there’s no question there’s a connection.

The recent jump in fatalities follows a period in 2014 where traffic deaths were at a record low, the lowest in fact since 1975. The 2014 data included 21,022 passenger vehicle deaths.

The 2015 increase is the biggest six-month jump in traffic deaths since 1977. But the numbers could level out when the data for the rest of the year becomes available.

Besides cell phones, Rosekind says gas prices may have also contributed to the increase in traffic deaths. More affordable gas means “risky drivers” such as teenagers were driving more.

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