Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths in the first six months of 2017 are 1 percent lower than they were during the same six-month period in 2016. However, the country is fresh off the steepest estimated two-year increase in motor vehicle deaths since 1964. The estimated deaths during the first six months of 2017 still are 8 percent higher than the 2015 six-month estimates, and the final six months of the calendar year – July to December – tend to be deadlier than the first six. An estimated 18,680 people have been killed on U.S. roads since January and 2.1 million were seriously injured. The total estimated cost of these deaths and injuries is $191 billion.
“The price of our cultural complacency is more than a hundred fatalities each day,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Although the numbers may be leveling off, the Road to Zero deaths will require accelerating improvements in technology, engaging drivers and investing in our infrastructure.”
The National Safety Council has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. Last winter, the Council estimated as many as 40,000 people were killed on the roads in 2016 – a 6 percent rise over 2015 and the largest two-year percentage increase in deaths in 53 years. Those estimates – as well as the 2017 preliminary estimates – are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature.
Factors impacting motor vehicle fatality trends include an improved economy and lower gas prices, both of which have helped fuel a 1.7 percent increase in miles driven from 2016 to 2017.
To help reduce fatalities on the road, the National Safety Council recommends drivers:
- Make sure every passenger buckles up on every trip
- Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation
- Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue
- Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free
- Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits, and visit DriveitHOME.org for resources
- Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. MyCarDoesWhat.org can help drivers understand features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning systems and backup cameras.
- Visit ChecktoProtect.org to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall
- Check the NSC State of Safety report to gauge whether your state’s road safety laws are strong enough