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Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes Increase for Second Straight Year

Damaged car from an accident with responding ambulance

On October 7, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released their annual overview of the latest fatal motor vehicle crash numbers. According to the new statistics, in 2016, the number of people killed in auto accidents in the United States increased by 5.6 percent, following an 8.4 percent increase in 2015.

The number of people killed in crashes on American roadways totaled 37,461 last year — the highest total number of fatalities since 2008. Although traffic fatalities have been generally decreasing since 2007, an increase in deaths in 2012 and over the past two years has stifled the progress.

Breakdown of Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics

In 2016, there was an increase of fatalities in nearly every segment of the population.

  • Passenger vehicle (cars, light trucks) occupant fatalities totaled 23,714 (4.7 percent increase)
    • Highest total since 2008
  • Motorcyclist fatalities totaled 5,286 (5.1 percent increase)
    • Highest total since 2008
  • Pedestrian fatalities totaled 5,987 (9 percent increase)
    • Highest total since 1990
  • Pedalcyclist fatalities totaled 840 (1.3 percent increase)
    • Highest total since 1991

Crashes involving large trucks in 2016 resulted in 4,317 fatalities, 83.3 percent of which were occupants of other vehicles or nonoccupants.

Several segments of human choice-related fatal crashes also saw an increase in 2016.

  • Fatalities in crashes involving drunk drivers totaled 10,497 (1.7 percent increase)
  • Speeding-related crash fatalities totaled 10,111 (4 percent increase)

Distracted Driving-related Fatalities Decrease

According to NHTSA, fatalities caused by a distracted driver totaled 3,450 — a decrease of 2.2 percent from 2015 to 2016. This figure is contended by anti-distracted driving advocacy groups, such as Stopdistractions.org, whose founder believes that the figure is perhaps three-times larger, according to Bloomberg News.

The National Safety Council conducted a study that found only about half of fatal crashes tied to known mobile phone use were coded correctly in the NHTSA database, causing a skew in the numbers. Each state has their own accident report forms and procedures for recording the causes of a crash, which NHTSA uses to compile their data. In turn, their annual fatal crash reports are only as good and as accurate as the information they receive from individual states.

In addition, the large increase in deaths among motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists may lend credence to the idea that distracted driving-affected crashes are in fact more prominent than reported. Nonoccupants and motorcyclists can be harder to notice when a motorist is driving distracted, and there are many distracted drivers on American roadways at any given time. According to NHTSA, approximately 660,000 thousand drivers are using cell phones while driving during daylight hours.

Learn more about distracted driving crashes in our blog post: What is distracted driving?

Injured in an Auto Accident? Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney

If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, call Thomas J. Henry. Our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your injury claim and provide you with a free case review. We have experience handling all types of auto accident cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, and motorcycle accidents. Let our team of experienced lawyers help you get the compensation you need. Contact us today if you or a loved one have been injured in an accident.

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