Preliminary data from the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States during 2016.
These figures mark a 6% increase over the previous year and a 14% increase over 2014 – the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years.
The preliminary figures indicate that 2016 may have been the deadliest year on U.S. roads since 2007.
An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in 2016, with an estimated cost to society of $432 billion.
“Our complacency is killing us. Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven’t done it.”
The NSC is calling for immediate implementation of life-saving measures including mandatory alcohol ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, automated enforcement techniques to catch speeders, extended laws banning all cell phone use – including hands-free – by all drivers and upgraded enforcement from secondary to primary in states with existing bans. The NSC is also calling for the immediate implementation of upgraded seat belt laws from secondary to primary enforcement and the adoption of a three-tiered licensing system for all new drivers under 21.
Motor vehicle fatality estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as data mature. NSC uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, an arm of the CDC, so that deaths occurring within 100 days of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.