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Why Traffic Fatalities Increased In US, NC

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In North Carolina, nearly 1,400 people died in car crashes last year, according to new federal data. Compared to the year before, traffic fatalities increased about 7 percent in North Carolina and nationally.

From a national perspective, traffic fatalities increased by the largest percentage in nearly 50 years. The U.S. Department of Transportation's annual report doesn't say how long it's been since North Carolina saw a similar increase. It's among 35 states that had more deaths from car crashes last year than the year before.

The report gives a few potential reasons why. The simplest is that more fatalities tend to occur when more people are on the road, and that's especially true when the weather is warmer. Last year was the U.S.'s second warmest on record, according to climate data

The transportation report also cites economic reasons. As the unemployment rate drops, more people hit the road for work and fun. And as gas prices fall, that also leads to more driving. 

The state-level data show another reason for North Carolina's increase. A larger portion of the deaths last year were tied to alcohol.

Also, South Carolina had one of the country's largest increases in traffic fatalities: 19 percent.