2015 Motor Vehicle Fatalities: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

September 6, 2016

motor vehicle fatalitiesAre we as a country getting better at motor vehicle safety…or worse? The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes an annual summary of the statistics that give us an accurate picture of the state of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. It’s called, “Traffic Safety Facts.”

And the results are not good. The stats are just out (August 2016) and traffic deaths were up in 2015 for the first time in 50 years! Grim news that has prompted the DOT, NHTSA, and the White House to issue a joint call to action.

There was some good news in the report that we mention below. But most of it was not so good. Take a look (we mention a few points about New York State not in the report):

The Good in 2015 for Vehicle Crashes

Fatalities of drivers of large trucks did not change from the year before. This is one of the few groups of drivers whose numbers didn’t increase.

The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles travelled increased from 1.08 to 1.12, the lowest increase since the NHTSA began collecting fatality data in 1975.

Over the past 10 years traffic fatalities have trended downward. 10 years ago, in 2006, there were 42,708 people killed in traffic accident as opposed to 35,092 in 2015 (see more below).

If you are age 19 or younger, you saw motorcycle fatalities in your group actually decline 8.7 percent from 2014 to 2015. That’s encouraging!

And good for us here in New York State: 58 percent of motorcyclists killed in states that don’t require helmets weren’t, you guessed it, wearing helmets. That’s compared to only 8 percent in states, like New York, that require helmets.

The Bad in 2015 for Vehicle Crashes

The estimated number of people injured on U. S. roads rose in 2015 from 2.34 in 2014 to 2.44 million.

The approximate number of crashes reported to police increased by 3.8 percent, from 6 to 6.3 million.

In New York State, alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities went from 30% of the total in 2014 to 28% of the total in 2016. A slight decrease, but still too many.

The Ugly in 2015 for Vehicle Crashes

35,092 people died in crashes in 2015, a 7.2 percent increase from 2014. That’s the largest percentage of increase in nearly 50 years. That’s 2,348 fatalities increasing in practically all segments of the population.

The number of passenger car and light-truck fatalities is the highest since 2009. Since 2014, SUV fatalities increased 10.1 percent, van fatalities up 9.3 percent, cars up 5.7 percent, and pickup trucks 4.7.

Motorcyclist fatalities went up 8.3 percent, the highest since 2012. Pedestrian, cyclist, and alcohol related fatalities were also up.

The reasons for these dismal statistics might be that vehicle miles traveled increased by 3.5 percent from 2014 to 2015. That’s the largest increase since 1992. Of course, gas prices are down and the Great Recession is receding as the economy recovers.

Another stat that caught our eye was an 8.8 percent increase in distracted driving fatalities. We’ve written about distracted driving before and consider it one of the most dangerous habits of drivers today. In 2015, distracted driving fatalities went up from 3,197 in 2014 to 3,477 in 2015. And this is only the accidents where distracted driving was the proven cause (most people aren’t willing to admit that they were on the phone just before the accident).

But the good news is that, as we said above, crash deaths have been trending downward the last 10 years. This is the result of increased seat belt use and less impaired driving. Plus, air bags and electronic stability controls in cars have also contributed to better results.

So don’t you become one of these stats…drive carefully, stay off your phone while driving, and get a designated driver when you’re out for a good time.

And call us anytime if you have questions on your car insurance coverages. It’s very inexpensive to get high limits of liability in case you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a car accident. At Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, we are here to help.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.