The stats are in, and they’re not good. The U.S. Department of Transportation has released the statistics on traffic fatalities for 2016, revealing it’s been an especially deadly year in traffic. The rate of traffic deaths are the highest they’ve been in a decade, and it could all be linked to how many people are on the road.
In 2016, fatalities had increased 5.6 percent, coming up to 37,461 from 35,485. That makes 2016 the deadliest year on the streets since 2007, when automotive deaths reached a total of 41,259. Some think the increase is due to there being more miles driven, which jumped 2.2 percent between 2015 and 2016. However, even with the increase in travel, 2016 was worse with an increased number of fatalities per million miles travels, going from 1.15 in 2015 to 1.18 in 2016.
All types of light-duty passenger vehicles saw an increase in deaths, including motorcycles. Anywhere from a 1.5 to an 8.4 percent increase in deaths across a range of different types of vehicles occurred. Drunk driving-related deaths also rose by 1.7 percent, and accidents ending in death where seniors over the age of 65 increase by 8.2 percent. One constant in all of this is that the number of vehicles on the road continues to increase, making for more accidents in the process.
On the bright side, seat belt usage is at its highest, having 90.1 percent of vehicle occupants using them. And despite drunk driving accidents on the rise, the rate of distracted drivers have dropped by 2.2 percent and the percentage of drowsy drivers has dropped by 3.5 percent. It should also be noted that the percentage increase of fatal accidents was considerably less between 2015 and 2016 than it was between 2014 and 2015. So in the grand scheme of things, the situation could be lessening in severity if the trend keeps up.