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The National Safety Council says motor vehicle deaths were up eight percent from 2014 to 2015, the biggest year-to-year increase in 50 years.

Distracted driving is partly to blame. Even if you're talking hands-free or voice texting, you may not be looking at the road, said Deborah Trombley, senior program manager of transportation initiatives at the National Safety Council.

“What drivers actually do is look at the dashboard because that’s what they’re talking to,” she said.

Trombley said drivers may still be distracted, even if their eyes are on the road while they’re talking to their dashboard.

“Looking right through the windshield but not seeing red lights," she explained. "They don’t see stop signs.”

Trombley said there are other reasons accidents are up. With the improving economy, more of us have jobs to drive to. We’re also driving more because gas is cheap. All of this is showing up in insurance claims.

“Severity’s up, frequency’s up, and that eventually finds its way into the cost of auto insurance,” said Michael Barry, vice president, media relations at the Insurance Information Institute, a non-profit consumer education group funded by car insurance companies.

Barry said car insurance premiums were up 5 percent in 2015. 

 

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Follow Nancy Marshall-Genzer at @MarshallGenzer