Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half
of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015, maintaining a steady
A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for the first half of 2016 shows that an estimated 17,775 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents an increase of about 10.4 percent as compared to the 16,100 fatalities that were reported to have occurred in the first half of 2015.
The second quarter of 2016 represents the seventh consecutive quarter with increases in fatalities as compared to the corresponding quarters in the previous years. Preliminary data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first 6 months of 2016 increased by about 50.5 billion miles, or about a 3.3-percent increase.
The fatality rate for the first half of 2016 increased to 1.12 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 1.05 fatalities per 100 million VMT in the first half of 2015. The actual counts for 2015 and 2016 and the ensuing percentage changes and rates from 2015 to 2016 will be further revised as the final file for 2015 and the annual reporting file for 2016 are available next year. These estimates may be further refined when the projections for the first 9 months of 2016 are released in late December.
The surge in traffic deaths comes as more Americans were driving due to lower gas prices and an improving economy.
Federal regulators are still trying to understand what’s behind the sudden change in fatalities. A U.S. Department of Transportation report found a 13 percent increase in deaths among cyclists and a 10 percent increase for both pedestrians and young drivers in 2015.
Driver distraction is a specific type of driver inattention. Distraction occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity. Oftentimes, discussions regarding distracted driving center around cell phone use and texting, but distracted driving also includes other activities such as eating, talking to other passengers, or adjusting the radio or climate controls, to name but a few.
Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2013 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
In 2013, there were 3,154 people killed and an estimated additional 424,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.
In 2013, there were 480 non occupants killed in distraction-affected crashes.