More Fatalities on the Road in 2016 from Reckless Acts

The fatality statistics are in, more people died in traffic accidents in 2016 than in 2015. The increase is due to reckless behavior including speeding, drunk driving, and no seat belts worn.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today released fatal traffic crash data for calendar year 2016. According to NHTSA data, which was collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015.

The number of vehicle miles traveled 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.

NHTSA found that distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing seat belts – continued to increase. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.

The number of passenger vehicle (passenger cars and light trucks) occupant fatalities is at its highest since 2008. •Passenger car occupant fatalities increased by 651, a 5.1-percent increase.  • SUV occupant fatalities increased by 219, a 5.2-percent increase. • Van occupant fatalities increased by 95, an 8.4-percent
increase.  Pickup truck occupant fatalities increased by 68, a 1.5-percent increase.

The 2016 national data shows that:

  • Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent;  Drowsy-driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5 percent;
  • Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 fatalities) increased by 1.7 per­cent;
  • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0 percent;
  • Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6 percent;
  • Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008) increased by 5.1 percent;
  • Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities – the highest number since 1990) increased by 9.0 percent; and
  • Bicyclist deaths (840 fatalities – the highest number since 1991) increased by 1.3 percent.

The proportion of people killed “inside the vehicle” (passenger car, light truck, large truck, bus, and other vehicle occupants) has declined from a high of 80 percent (1996-2000) to 67 percent (2015-2016). Conversely, the proportion of people killed “outside the vehicle” (motorcyclists, pedestrians, pedalcyclists and other nonoccupants) has increased from a low of 20 percent (1996-2000) to a high of 33 percent (2015-2016).

NHTSA continues to work closely with its state and local partners, law enforcement agencies, and the more than 350 members of the Road to Zero Coalition to help address the human choices that are linked to 94 percent of serious crashes. NHTSA also continues to promote vehicle technologies that hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives every year, and may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that drivers make behind the wheel.