NHTSA Reports 2017 Highway Fatality Numbers Down

A total of 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, a decrease of nearly 2 percent from 2016. Preliminary estimates for the first 6 months of 2018 indicate that the downward trend may continue into this year as well.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Wednesday that 2017 highway fatality numbers are down after two consecutive years of large increases. Preliminary estimates for the first 6 months of 2018 indicate that the downward trend may continue into this year as well.

A total of 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, a decrease of nearly 2 percent from 2016. The full data set from the 2017 Fatality Analysis Reporting System is available now, and other notable changes include:

  • Pedestrian fatalities declined about 2 percent, the first decline since 2013;
  • For the second year in a row, more fatalities occurred in urban areas than rural areas;
  • Combination trucks involved in fatal crashes increased 5.8 percent;
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by 1.2 percent from 2016 to 2017; and
  • The fatality rate per 100 million VMT decreased by 2.5 percent, from 1.19 in 2016 to 1.16 in 2017.

“Safety is the Department’s number one priority,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said. “The good news is that fatalities are trending downward after increasing for the two previous years. But, the tragic news is that 37,133 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. All of us need to work together to reduce fatalities on the roads.”

The 1.8-percent decrease in roadway fatalities from 2016 to 2017 compares to the 6.5-percent increase from 2015 to 2016 and the 8.4-percent increase from 2014 to 2015.

“Dangerous actions such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence are still putting many Americans, their families and those they share the road with at risk,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi R. King said. “Additionally, we must address the emerging trend of drug-impaired driving to ensure we are reducing traffic fatalities and keeping our roadways safe for the traveling public.”

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