Report: Road deaths rising

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The number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes increased sharply in 2016, according to new national data.

In all, 40,200 people died in crashes in 2016, up 6 percent from 2015 and up 14 percent from 2014, the biggest two-year increase in more than half a century, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council. In Illinois, 1,078 people died in motor vehicles in 2016, an 18 percent increase over 2014.

A survey conducted by the NSC found many drivers report potentially dangerous behavior behind the wheel: 64 percent say they are comfortable speeding and 47 percent say they are comfortable sending text messages, either manually or through a voice control. Many drivers also said they did not know how to use the safety features that come with their car.

The NSC has called for changes in law it says would reduce deaths, including requiring ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, better education about driving impaired and laws banning all cell phone use, including hands-free.

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