Traffic Deaths Jump Record 9% First half of the year sees biggest increase on record By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Sep 28, 2012 8:20 AM CDT 17 comments Comments Traffic deaths have climbed 9% in the first half of the year. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Traffic fatalities jumped 9% in the first half of the year, the highest first-half increase since the government began tracking the deaths, CNN reports. Motor vehicle crashes killed about 16,000 people between January and June, according to a statistical projection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration didn't speculate on the cause of the increase, but it's a sharp reversal from the downward trend of recent years. Calling the figures "alarming," the American Automobile Association pointed to possible factors, including an improved economy— meaning more traffic—and "the continued deterioration of highways and deferral of needed maintenance and improvements by federal and state governments." It didn't mention distracted driving, but if that's a factor, maybe those driverless cars in California will help.