Georgia motor vehicle deaths jump by a third in two years

Motor vehicle deaths in Georgia jumped by a third over the last two years – more than twice the national average, a new study shows.

The National Safety Council study released Wednesday shows fatalities in Georgia rose 34 percent from 2014 to 2016, the fifth-highest jump in the nation. Fatalities rose 14 percent nationwide during the same period.

According to the council’s estimates, 1,540 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Georgia last year. Across the United States, 40,200 people died in such accidents – the first time since 2007 fatalities had exceeded 40,000.

The council said cheap gas and an improving economy – which means more people on the road – may have contributed to rising fatalities. But they’re not the only factor.

“The top three killers are speed, alcohol and distraction,” council President Deborah Hersman said at a press conference announcing the study. “The same things that have killed us for decades are still killing us.”

The National Safety Council is an education and research group that seeks to eliminate preventable deaths. The study counts fatalities on the nation’s public roads as well as those on private property.