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Traffic Fatalities Up Sharply In 2015; Injuries Up As Well

Release Date: August 31, 2016

In the United States, 35,092 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2015, ending a five-decade trend of declining fatalities, with a 7.2-percent increase in deaths from 2014. Data released August 29, 2016 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed traffic deaths rising in nearly every segment of the population. The last single-year increase of this magnitude was in 1966, when fatalities rose 8.1percent from the previous year.

Ten years ago (2005), the number of traffic deaths was nearly 25 percent higher, with 42,708 fatalities reported nationwide. Since then, safety programs have helped lower the number of deaths by increasing seat belt use and reducing impaired driving. Vehicle improvements, including technologies such as air bags and electronic stability control, have also greatly contributed to reduce traffic deaths. However, with the large increase in fatalities in 2015, that decade-long downward trend of almost 25 percent has been reduced by almost one third.

According to NHTSA, job growth and low fuel prices were two factors that led to increased driving, including increased leisure driving and driving by young people. In 2015, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased 3.5% over 2014, the largest increase in nearly 25 years, and more driving can contribute to higher fatality rates. NHTSA noted human factors continued to contribute to the majority of crashes. Almost half of passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts, almost one in three fatalities involved drunk drivers or speeding, and one in ten fatalities involved distraction.

Overall, all categories of occupant and non-occupant fatalities increased, as follows:

In addition, the number of people injured increased by 105,000 in 2015, a 4.5% increase. The overall injury rate increased 1.3% from 77 per 100 million VMT in 2014 to 78 in 2015. The total number of police-reported traffic crashes increased by 3.8% from 2014 to 2015.

NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts 2015 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview can be accessed via a link in

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The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.

COPYRIGHT ©2016, ISO Services, Inc.