The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its final calculation of 2016 crash fatalities, finding 37,461 traffic deaths, compared with 35,485 in 2015. The only good news is that the 5.6 percent increase was less than 8.4 percent increase from 2014 to 2015.
This is the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2007. After that year, there was a dramatic decline in fatalities to a low of 32,367 in 2011. Though fatalities had remained roughly constant at about 42,000 per year from 1995 to 2007, they suddenly declined by 10 percent in 2008 and another 10 percent in 2009. Fatality rates — deaths per billion vehicle miles driven — had been declining for more than a century, but traffic experts could not explain why there was a large decline in total fatalities in that two-year period. Continue reading
As the Antiplanner observed yesterday, driving increased by 3.5 percent in 2015. Along with that increase came an 8 percent increase in traffic fatalities, according to the National Safety Council.
Six years ago, data revealed that 2009 traffic fatalities had declined by nearly 10 percent from 2008, which itself had nearly 10 percent fewer fatalities than 2007. This dramatic change left many experts perplexed. Some credited safer cars, but the Antiplanner suggested that much of the decline had resulted from the recession-induced decline in driving: 2009 miles were nearly 1 percent less than 2008’s, which were nearly 2 percent less than 2007.
If a slight reduction in congestion due to less driving could result in such a large decrease in fatalities, then similarly a reduction in congestion due to increased roadway capacity or other congestion-reducing measures could similarly save lives. Conversely, the Antiplanner suggested, cities that deliberately allowed congestion to increase in order to get people to stop driving were killing people.