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U.S. motor vehicle deaths last year topped 40,000 for the first time since 2007 as cheap gasoline and a healthy economy encouraged motorists to drive more, according to new estimates released Wednesday by the National Safety Council.

Roadside fatalities last year hit 40,200, a 6 percent gain from 2015 and up 14 percent from 2014, according to the group. The trend reflects similar findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which in January reported an 8 percent rise in deadly crashes in the first nine months of 2016 compared to the prior-year period.

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