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Itasca, IL – For the first time in nearly a decade, preliminary 2016 data from the National Safety Council estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year. That marks a 6% increase over 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014 – the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 – 53 years. The preliminary estimate means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the nation's roads since 2007. An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in 2016, and estimated cost to society was $432 billion.
An NSC survey released Feb. 15 provides a glimpse at the risky things drivers are doing. Although 83% of drivers surveyed believe driving is a safety concern, a startling number say they are comfortable speeding (64%), texting either manually or through voice controls (47%), driving while impaired by marijuana (13%), or driving after they feel they've had too much alcohol (10%).
Motor vehicle fatality estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as data mature. NSC uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the CDC, so that deaths occurring within 100 days of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the Council's estimates.
"Our complacency is killing us. Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn't true," said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. "The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven't done it."
With the upward trend showing no sign of subsiding, NSC is calling for immediate implementation of life-saving measures that would set the nation on a road to zero deaths:
NSC has issued traffic fatality estimates since 1921. Supplemental estimate information, including estimates for each state, can be found here.
About the National Safety Council Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.
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