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NHTSA: Crash fatalities dip in 2014, rise first half of 2015

Dec. 1, 2015
Agency said 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, a 0.1% decrease from 2013. But 16,225 motor vehicle fatalities occurred during the first half of 2015; an 8.1% increase compared to the same period in 2014.

While motor vehicle fatalities declined slightly in 2014, they’ve jumped significantly during the first half of this year, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

NHTSA’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) figures for 2014 indicate 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014; a 0.1% decrease from 2014, with the fatality rate falling to a record-low of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

However, the agency’s FARS data for the first half of 2015 indicates 16,225 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes – a “significant” 8.1% increase compared to the 15,014 fatalities reported during the first half of 2014 – with the fatality rate increasing by 4.4% compare to the same period last year.

“These numbers are a call to action,” noted U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement, adding that while partial-year estimates are more volatile and subject to revision, the estimated increase represents “a troubling departure” from a general downward trend in traffic fatalities.

“Everyone with a responsibility for road safety – federal, state and local governments, law enforcement, vehicle manufacturers, safety advocates and road users – needs to reassess our efforts to combat threats to safety,” he said. “[We] will redouble our efforts on safety and we expect our partners to do the same.”

NHTSA added that Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that VMT in the first 6 months of 2015 increased by about 51.9 billion miles, or 3.5%, compared to the first half of 2014, -with the fatality rate for the first half of 2015 rising to 1.06 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 1.01 fatalities per 100 million VMT in the first half of 2014.

NHTSA also released addition crash data for 2014:

  • Some 2.3 million people were injured in crashes in 2014;
  • While showing slight fluctuation in recent years, fatalities and injuries overall are generally declining. Fatalities dropped 25% from 2005 to 2014 and the number of people injured decreased 13% from 2005 to 2014;
  • There were 6.1 million police-reported crashes in 2014, with 72% involving only property damage, with no one injured or killed;
  • Drunk driving crashes continue to represent roughly one-third of fatalities, resulting in 9,967 deaths in 2014;
  • Nearly half (49%) of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts;
  • The number of motorcyclists killed was far higher in states without strong helmet laws, resulting in 1,565 lives lost in 2014;
  • Cyclist deaths declined by 2.3%, but pedestrian deaths rose by 3.1% from 2013. In 2014, there were 726 cyclists and 4,884 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes;
  • Distracted driving accounted for 10% of all crash fatalities, killing 3,179 people in 2014;
  • Drowsy driving accounted for 2.6% of all crash fatalities; at least 846 people died in these crashes in 2014;
  • In 2014, 9,262 people died in speeding-related crashes or some 28% of all fatalities.

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