Last week the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its annual report of fatal traffic crashes for calendar year 2016. The NHTSA collected information from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to the report, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads during 2016. The result is an increase of 5.6% from 2015. However, that increase is lower than the 8.4% increase from 2014 to 2015.
The NHTSA reported that “the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million VMT – a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year.” In addition, the data showed that although distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, deaths caused by other reckless behaviors – such as speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing seat belts – continued to rise. Motorcycle and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.
The NHTSA report categorized the statistics as follows:
- Distraction-related deaths (3,450) decreased by 2.2 percent;
- Drowsy-driving deaths (803) decreased by 3.5%;
- Drunk-driving deaths (10,497) increased by 1.7%;
- Speeding-related deaths (10,111) increased by 4.0%;
- Unbelted deaths (10,428) increased by 4.6%;
- Motorcyclist deaths (5,286) increased by 5.1%;
- Pedestrian deaths (5,987) increased by 9.0%; and
- Bicyclist deaths (840) increased by 1.3%.
Over the past decade, the NHTSA reports that there has been a general downward trend in traffic fatalities. The NHTSA gives credit to safety awareness programs regarding seat belt use and impaired driving for the positive trend. The NHTSA is working to help address the human choices that are linked to 94 percent of serious crashes. Furthermore, the NHTSA is working to promote vehicle technologies that are designed to reduce the number of crashes each year and lower the risk of severe injury resulting from those crashes.
The annual report showed that 36% of deaths were passenger car occupants, while 28% were classified as light truck occupants. In addition, 18% of deaths were pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-occupants, while 14% were motorcyclists. Only 4% of deaths were classified as large truck, bus, and other vehicle occupants.
Meanwhile, almost half (48%) of passenger car fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt. However, estimated belt use increased from 88.5% in 2015 to 90.1% in 2016. The percentage of fatalities without a seatbelt during the daytime increased from 40% in 2015 to 41% in 2016. The percentage of fatalities without a seatbelt during the nighttime decreased from 57% in 2015 to 56% in 2016. For those passenger vehicle occupants who survived fatal crashes in 2016, only 14% were unrestrained compared to 48% who died. During the daytime, 12% of passenger vehicle occupants who survived fatal crashes were unrestrained, thus 88% of the survivors were restrained. Restraint use among the nighttime crash survivors differed slightly compared to daytime—16% were unrestrained and 84% were restrained.
In Missouri during 2016, there were 945 total fatalities on the road, an increase of 8.6% in 2015. 244 of the 945 deaths were classified as alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, an increase of 8.4% in 2015.