Your Aug. 18 Pre-Trip: Traffic deaths up 14% nationally

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. According to data gathered by the National Safety Council, traffic deaths are up by 14% nationally, the Associated Press reports. Nearly 19,000 people across the country lost their lives in traffic accidents through June, AP said. Two reasons could be states raising their speed limits and the increased number of drivers distracted by cell phone calls and text messages. “If the trend continues, traffic deaths this year could exceed 40,000 for the first time since 2007, where there were nearly 44,000 deaths,” the report stated.

2. California lawmakers are considering a tax increase on gas and hybrid vehicles, CBS Los Angeles reports. The bill would increase the current state gas tax by 10 cents per gallon, CBS said. In addition, annual car registration fees would go up by $35 and zero-emission cars would be subject to a $100 annual fee. The proposed gas tax increase is expected to generate a total of $15 billion over five years, which, according to the report, would be a fraction of the $60 billion needed to fix the state’s roads. CBS has more.  

3. A toll road project for U.S. 301 in Delaware was recently given the financial OK, according to Delaware Online. According to the report, this would be the first new toll road opened in the state since 1993. Delaware’s DOT expects to begin seeking bids for the two longest sections of the new road by early September. According to the report, a final construction approval on a $241 million bond sale would follow in October. Delaware Online has more.

4. U.S. News and World Report is looking into how the nation’s trucking fleets are being forced to move more freight with less man power. During an interview with the publication, Bob Costello, chief economist at American Trucking Assns., said the industry was short 35,000 to 40,000 drivers as of 2014. According to the report, Costello said he wouldn’t be surprised if the average would reach 50,000 or more this year.

5. Ford is recalling more than 26,000 trucks due to faulty seat belt anchors, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The recall covers F-650 and 750 trucks from 2011, 2013 and 2015 that were built in Mexico from Feb. 14, 2011, through April 28, 2015, according to the report.

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