Automotive Fleet photo.

Automotive Fleet photo.

Traffic deaths in the U.S. have increased every month for the past six months, compared to the same period in 2014, the National Safety Council said.

Unfortunately, NSC warned, the disturbing trend is likely to continue this summer during what’s known as the “100 deadly days” – the high-traffic driving period from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Since 2010, this three-month stretch has claimed 48,579 lives.

“While the statistics point out a dangerous trend, we have the ability to influence outcomes through our choices and behavior,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Summer is typically a high-exposure period with lots of miles driven and several long holiday weekends. Take your responsibilities behind the wheel this summer seriously and ensure that you get to your destination safety.”

NSC believes the spike in fatal car crashes – an 11-percent increase during the past three months and an 8-percent overall increase in the past six – is due in part to an improving economy. Lower gas prices and lower unemployment rates often lead to an increase in traffic because more people can afford to drive. Also, more drivers travel long distances and take vacations. Certain crash factors, such as speeding and alcohol, are more common during the summer, too. A yearly average of 2,781 deaths in June, July and August involve speeding, and 2,846 involve alcohol.

To help stay safe on the roads this summer, NSC recommends:

  • Making sure every passenger buckles up every trip.
  • Designating an alcohol- and drug-free driver or arranging alternate transportation.
  • Getting plenty of sleep and taking regular breaks to avoid fatigue on long trips.
  • Never using a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free.
  • Staying engaged with your teens’ driving habits. (An NSC survey found many parents are more inclined to loosen household driving rules during the summer.)
  • Learning about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. My Car Does What? can help drivers understand the ins and outs of features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning systems and backup cameras.