Concern has been expressed at the increase in road deaths in the US. There were 37,461 road deaths on US roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6% from 2015. The data comes from the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA data was collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also shows that the vehicle distance travelled on US roads in 2016 increased by 2.2%. This resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths/100 vehicle miles travelled (VMT), an increase of 2.6% from the previous year.
The NHTSA data shows that deaths from distracted driving and drowsy driving dropped. However road fatalities relating to reckless behaviour such as speeding, alcohol use and not wearing seat belts continued to increase. Of note is that motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.
Overall, there were 3,450 distraction-related deaths, a drop of 2.2% and similarly, drowsy driving deaths fell by 3.5% to 803 fatalities. But drunk driving deaths increased by 1.7% to 10,497 fatalities and speeding-related deaths grew 4% to 10,111 fatalities, while unbelted deaths grew 4.6% to 10,428 fatalities.
Motorcyclist deaths increased by 5.1% and hit 5,286 fatalities, the highest number since 2008. Pedestrian deaths were an even greater cause for concern as they grew 9% to 5,987 fatalities, the highest number since 1990. Cyclist deaths grew 1.3% to 840 fatalities, the highest number since 1991.
The NHTSA is working closely with its state and local partners, law enforcement agencies, and the Road to Zero Coalition to help address the human choices that are linked to 94% of serious crashes. The NHTSA also continues to promote safe vehicle technologies that could reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives every year.