Fatalities involving large trucks increased 4% in 2015 compared to 2014, according to estimates in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest Traffic Safety Facts.

The summary is based on preliminary statistics. The final report will be released later this year.

Overall in 2015, the preliminary data shows an estimated 35,200 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, a 7.7% increase.

“If these projections are realized, fatalities will be at the highest level since 2008, when 37,423 fatalities were reported,” the report states.

One factor contributing to higher fatalities is a 3.5% increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). However, the data also shows that fatality rates per 100 million VMT rose in 2015 to 1.12 compared to 1.08 in 2014.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind says, “As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles. But that only explains part of the increase. Ninety-four percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error, so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place.”

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