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Safety & Accident

Crash Fatalities Climb 9% in 2016’s First Half

August 23, 2016

A stronger U.S. economy, lower unemployment rates, and lower gas prices contributed to more miles driven in the first half of 2016.
A stronger U.S. economy, lower unemployment rates, and lower gas prices contributed to more miles driven in the first half of 2016.

Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths were 9% higher through the first six months of 2016 than in 2015, and 18% higher than two years ago at the six-month mark.

An estimated 19,100 people have been killed on U.S. roads since January, and 2.2 million were seriously injured. The total estimated cost of these deaths and injuries is $205 billion, the National Safety Council said.

The upward trend, which began in late 2014, shows no signs of decreasing. Last winter, the National Safety Council issued its largest year-over-year percentage increase in 50 years, when it estimated fatalities had jumped 8% in 2015 compared to 2014.

The continuing rise in fatalities prompted the National Safety Council to predict the deadliest Labor Day holiday period since 2008. NSC estimates 438 people will be killed during the three-day holiday weekend.

States that have been hit particularly hard since 2014, the start of the upward trend, are Florida (43% increase), Georgia (34% increase), Indiana (33% increase), California (31% increase), North Carolina (26% increase), Illinois (24% increase), and Kentucky (24% increase).

“Our complacency is killing us,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “One hundred deaths every day should outrage us. Americans should demand change to prioritize safety actions and protect ourselves from one of the leading causes of preventable death.”

While many factors likely contributed to the fatality increase, a stronger economy and lower unemployment rates are at the core of the trend, according to the National Safety Council. Average gas prices for the first six months of 2016 were 16% lower than 2015 levels, helping to fuel a 3.3% increase in the number of miles driven.

To help ensure safety, NSC recommends drivers:

  • Make sure every passenger buckles up on every trip
  • Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation
  • Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
  • Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits, since teens are three times as likely to crash as more experienced drivers
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. My Car Does What can help drivers understand features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning systems, and backup cameras.

Motor vehicle fatality estimates are subject to slight increases or decreases as data mature. NSC has issued traffic fatality estimates since 1921. Supplemental estimate information can be found here.


  1. 1. Stephen [ August 24, 2016 @ 04:59AM ]

    The increase is economic. The recession years depressed driving, in particular DUI, younger drivers, and less discretionary (travel) driving.

    The last boom year (not counting 2015), was 2007, where then we drove a record number of miles.

    In the 2007 US deaths were 41,259 which was at the time the biggest driving year till 2015.

    2015 deaths are LOWER! And if the 19,100 6 months number, will be lower than 2007 despite even more miles driven than 2015 in 2016.

    It is really important to NOT compare 2016 or 2015 to the recession years as any comparison to 2008 to 2014 numbers SKEW the results due the recession affecting the numbers.

    Here are 2006 thur 2014.
    2006 US Death rate per mile 1.42 Total Deaths 42,708 Miles Driven 3.014 Trillion (3,014 VMT Billion)
    2007 US Death rate per mile 1.36 Total Deaths 41,259 Miles Driven 3.031 Trillion
    Recession Begins
    2008 US Death rate per mile 1.26 Total deaths 37,423. Miles Driven 2.977 Trillion (2,977 VMT Billion)
    Full year of recession
    2009 US Death rate per mile 1.15 Total deaths 33,883. Miles Driven 2.957 Trillion
    2010 US Death rate per mile 1.11 Total deaths 32,999. Miles Driven 2.967 Trillion
    2011 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,479. Miles Driven 2.950 Trillion
    2012 US Death rate per mile 1.14 Total deaths 33,782. Miles Driven 2.969 Trillion
    2013 US Death rate per mile 1.10 Total deaths 32,894. Miles Driven 2,988 Trillion
    Starting to leave Recession
    2014 US Death rate per mile 1.08 Total deaths 32,675. Miles Driven 3.026 Trillion (3,026 VMT Billion)

    Also note that a lot of the deaths in places like AL had a high percentage of people NOT WEARING seat belts too. Couple that with more miles, more likely DUI and younger drivers, that is why it is higher also than the recession years.

    Also it would be helpful if NSC would also use the DEATH RATE per mile as it takes into account the miles driven too. 2015 was 1.12, thought higher than 2014 and 2013, was lower than 2012.

    Again we are dealing with an economic increase and the effects of that. When the next recession hits, and DUI, younger drivers, and discretionary driving drops so will the deaths.


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