7.7% more traffic deaths in 2015; U.S. lags in prevention

7.7% more traffic deaths in 2015; U.S. lags in prevention

The number of Americans who died in car crashes rose 7.7 percent last year, NHTSA reports. But that number could drop by half with an increase in seat belt use and reduction of drunk driving, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

–As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. –But that only explains part of the increase. Ninety-four percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error, so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place.”

The CDC study found that compared with other high-income countries, the U.S. had the second highest percentage of deaths involving alcohol (31 percent) and the third lowest front seat belt use (87 percent).

An estimated 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in 2015, an average of 90 a day. Nearly 1 in 3 deaths resulted from speeding, and about 10 percent from distracted driving.

Download Bulletin PDF