After eight years of declining deaths in traffic accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) is reporting an eight percent increase in the number of deaths for the first six months of this year. If this trend holds, it would be the highest percentage increase since 1946, according to CBS News.

Fatalities in traffic accidents have been falling because of safety improvements in motor vehicles. However, much of the blame for accidents now lies in the driver’s choice to drive drowsy, drunk, on drugs, or distracted. Human error plays a role in nearly every crash and these actions make it more likely to occur.

These events have been studied by different organizations over the past few years and the statistics definitely raise concern. The Governors Highway Safety Association found. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 21 percent of fatal crashes were caused by a driver falling asleep at the wheel and nearly half of accidents involving teenage drivers were caused in part by distracted driving.

In other auto news, the House of Representatives in early November passed a transportation bill to address highway funding and safety incidents. However, many of the tougher measures in the Senate bill were not passed, including the provision to triple the amount of fines that the NHTSA can levy against a company for improperly delayed recalls. The bill will now undergo reconciliation to address the differences.

The House also didn’t address the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act, which we had previously speculated could get wrapped into the transportation bill due to its importance in auto safety. The Senate unanimously passed the auto whistleblower law earlier this year and it is awaiting action by the House.

The traffic statistics were released just before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest weekends for travel in the country. We hope you and your family had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!