Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the 2016 Fatal Traffic Crash Data, which is an annual report of the deadly motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States. Sadly, the total number of deadly traffic crashes in 2016 increased 5.6% from the prior year, going from 35,485 in 2015 to 37,460 in 2016. Here are the other highlights from this report.
Trends in 2016 Fatal Traffic Crashes
The data used to compile these annual statistics was collected from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on our nation’s roads in 2016 was up 2.2% from the prior year, and the fatality rate was 1.18 deaths for every 100 VMT, a 2.6% increase over 2015.
There has been a downward trend in fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. over the past decade, with the exception of the past two years. In 2007, there were 41,259 motor vehicle fatalities. Those figures have been reduced over the years by programs and laws to encourage seat belt use and reduced impaired driving. There are also now technology advances in some vehicles, such as electronic stability control, that are reducing traffic deaths.
Changes in Fatal Accidents by Vehicle Types
One of the most significant changes over the past decade is the composition of fatal traffic crashes. This refers to how victims of these crashes were on the road. For example, in 2007 passenger-occupied vehicles accounted for 40% of crash fatalities. By 2016, that number had decreased to 36%. In 2007, pedestrians and cyclists accounted for just 13% of crash fatalities. Now that number has risen to 18%, which indicates an increased danger for these potential accident victims.
Fatality Changes by Person Type
According to the latest data, 54% of the overall increase in fatalities last year was due to the rise in the number of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities. There were 23,714 deaths in passenger vehicles, which is the highest number since 2008. 5.1% more motorcyclists lost their lives in 2016 than the prior year, with 5,286 deaths which is also the highest number since 2008. Alarmingly, pedestrian deaths were up 9% in 2016 to their highest rate since 1990 and cyclist deaths were up 1.3% to the highest rate since 1991.
Types of Fatal Car Crashes
There are many different types of fatal car crashes tracked by the NHTSA. According to the agency, 94% of serious crashes are linked to “human choices.” This refers to decisions related to distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving, impaired driving, and even the choice to wear a seatbelt. According to the 2016 data:
• There were 3,450 distracted driving fatalities, a decrease of 2.2%.
• There were 10,111 speed-related deaths, an increase of 4%.
• Drowsy driving deaths totaled 803 last year, a decrease of 3.5%.
• Drunk driving was linked to 10,497 deaths, an increase of 1.7%
Alcohol-Related Fatal Traffic Crashes
While impaired driving deaths were up 1.7% over the prior year, these accidents accounted for 28% of the total fatal traffic crashes in 2016. The only group of drivers last year that reduced its rate of DUI crashes was pickup truck drivers. All others showed an increase. For example, large truck drivers were responsible for 50.9% more DUI accidents in 2016 than in the prior year. The percentage increase for van drivers was 23.3%.
Additional Fatal Traffic Crash Statistics
• An alarming number of vehicle drivers and passengers are still not wearing their seatbelts, despite it being the law in most U.S. states. Among the passenger vehicle occupants who lost their lives in traffic crashes last year, 48% were not wearing seatbelts.
• Among age groups, there are greater increases in older drivers being involved in fatal traffic crashes, likely due to our aging population. Between 2015 and 2016, fatal crashes in the 16-to-24 age group increased 4% while there was an 8.2% increase in the 65+ age group.
• Fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 5.4%, the largest increase since 2007. Of the deaths, 72.4% were occupants of other vehicles.
As experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys, we have seen all of these types of devastating accidents and more. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, Olmstead & Olmstead has the experience and resources necessary to protect your rights and pursue the parties responsible for your losses. Contact our qualified accident attorneys today at (703) 361-1555 or online to schedule a confidential case review.