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Safety & Accident

Estimated 2016 Road Deaths Climb 6%

February 15, 2017

Photo by Famartin via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Famartin via Wikimedia Commons.

As many as 40,000 people in the U.S. died in motor vehicle crashes last year — a 6% increase compared to 2015 and a 14% jump compared to 2014, according to preliminary 2016 data from the National Safety Council.

The figure represents the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964. The preliminary estimate means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the nation’s roads since 2007.

An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in 2016, and the estimated cost to society was $432 billion, according to NSC.

An NSC survey released Feb. 15 provides a glimpse at the risky behaviors propelling this trend. Although 83% of drivers surveyed believe driving is a safety concern, a startling number say they are comfortable speeding (64%), texting either manually or through voice controls (47%), driving while impaired by marijuana (13%), or driving after they feel they’ve had too much alcohol (10%).

Motor vehicle fatality estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as data mature, according to NSC. The organization uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Included are deaths that occur within 100 days of a crash and deaths that occur on both public and private roadways, such as parking lots and driveways. 

“Our complacency is killing us. Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven’t done it.”

NSC is calling for immediate implementation of these eight measures:

NSC has issued traffic fatality estimates since 1921. Supplemental estimate information, including estimates for each state, can be found here. 

In response to NSC's 2016 road death projections, the Governors Highway Safety Association released a statement calling for action by the highway safety community. The group also urged the federal government to ease restrictions on how federal funds are spent to advance state safety efforts. 

“The good news is we know what works to save lives — high visibility enforcement of strong traffic laws coupled with public education and awareness,” GHSA said. “At the same time, state highway safety offices need the flexibility to try new approaches and strategies to administer their federally-funded programs. Too often, state programs are bogged down by unnecessary and repetitive paperwork and federal bureaucracy, which detract from the effort spent on safety.”


  1. 1. TAK [ February 21, 2017 @ 03:48PM ]

    Do one thing and MOST of the deaths go away: no cell phone use of any kind while moving. HANG UP AND DRIVE!!!

  2. 2. MC [ February 22, 2017 @ 05:07AM ]

    You can pass all the laws you want, but you can't fix stupid. I know people that text while driving (even with children in the car) although it is unlawful in my state. I know people that refuse to wear their seat belt because of their political beliefs even though it's been law for 30+ years. I know one girl that wasn't wearing her seat belt, got into a wreck and tried to sue for injuries caused by the airbag. Not only did she lose, but she was then cited for not wearing the seat belt.

    “The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities."
    That's because the rest of the developed world cares enough to slow down and think where the US is constantly going a million mph and we can't have things like safety and common sense get in the way. In the US, we're constantly on the go because we work the most and receive the least in return. Americans work twice as hard to get half as far as most of our industrialized counterparts.
    You want laws that are useful? How about legislating software in new vehicles (or in new cell phones) that automatically put cell phones on stand-by while the vehicle is moving or in gear? My phone has a 'driving mode' that works for incoming text messages and is activated when I start my car. It sends a return text saying that I am driving and will get back to you later. Take that one step further and make it for incoming phone calls too (maybe allow a code you can give to family members in case of an emergency and track incoming emergency calls so that doesn't get abused by employers).
    Another step further would be to outlaw drive-through windows at restaurants. That won't stop distracted driving from food, but it will cut it considerably.

  3. 3. Dennis Taylor [ February 22, 2017 @ 02:01PM ]

    New vehicles are equipped with GPS. Thus the vehicle system can determine the local speed limit. It should be easy to activate speed limiters in all new vehicles - regardless whether the driver is using cruise control or not. That should eliminate ALL speeding. Drivers may not like it. So what? I've had trailing drivers flash headlamps at me (doing the speed limit) while I am overtaking a truck. Just because I was going 3 mph slower than they were? And I didn't pull out in front of them. I'm sorry if I wasted 10 seconds of your life, but I am trying to take care of the seconds in my own life.


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