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NHTSA Reports Significant Increases in Pedestrian/Motorcyclist Fatalities

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How safe are you when you’re on the road—if you’re not in your car?

According to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), not safe enough. In their 2016 fatal crash data report, the NHTSA revealed that there were a total of 37,461 lives lost on U.S. roads in 2016, with over 5,000 of those fatalities occurring on motorcycles, and 5,987 of them occurring among pedestrians.

Those last two numbers represent significant increases over the numbers reported in 2015—5.1 percent more motorcycle fatalities, and 9.0 percent more pedestrian fatalities. In the latter case, the numbers are the highest recorded since 1990.

Amidst all the bad news, there was some good news: both distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined in 2016.

2016 the Deadliest on U.S. Roads in a Decade

Despite all the advancements in safety developed over the last decade or so, there are still too many fatalities happening on U.S. roads. The National Safety Council states that based on these numbers, 2016 may have been the deadliest year since 2007.

With distracted driving and drowsy driving producing fewer fatalities, the question is: why were there so many increases in fatality rates? Currently, it looks like these deaths may be attributed to speeding, alcohol impairment, and a failure to wear seatbelts.

Drunk-driving deaths, for example, increased by 1.7 percent, while speeding-related deaths increased by 4.0 percent. Unbelted deaths increased by 4.6 percent.

These numbers are unacceptably high, according to many groups. U.S. News reports that far more Americans “die in road crashes every year than in virtually any other rich nation of the world, when measuring deaths by population.” They add that this has been the case for years, but that 2016 looks like the deadliest in a decade.

While there are ten or so deaths for every 100,000 Americans, the death rate in Britain and Sweden is about one-third that, while the rate in Japan and Australia is half that. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. also has the lowest percentage decline in motor vehicle crash deaths among 19 other high-income countries compared. They added that the U.S. has the second highest percentage of deaths involving alcohol-impaired driving, and the third lowest national front seat belt use.

NHTSA Hopes Self-Driving Cars Will Help

The NHTSA has stated that it will continue to work with states and local partners and law enforcement to help improve these statistics. They added that human choices are linked to 94 percent of serious crashes and that they expect new vehicle technologies will eventually “help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that drivers made behind the wheel.”

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