According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,317 fatalities occurring last year in crashes involving large trucks, which is 5.4% higher when compared to 2015 and is also the highest level of large truck crash deaths since 2007.
Of those 4,317 fatalities, 722 or 16.7% were “occupants” of large trucks – which is up 8.6% from 665 deaths in 2016, NHTSA noted – with 10.8% “non-occupants” and 72.4% occupants of other vehicles.
Overall, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6% from calendar year 2015, according to the agency, with the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on U.S. roads in 2016 increasing by 2.2% and thus resulting in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million VMT – a 2.6% increase when compared to 2015.
NHTSA found that distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing seat belts – continued to increase, with motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-over-year increase in highway fatalities.
Other 2016 highway fatality data released by NHTSA included:
- Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2%;
- Drowsy-driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5%;
- Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 fatalities) increased by 1.7%;
- Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0%;
- Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6%;
- Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008) increased by 5.1%;
- Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities – the highest number since 1990) increased by 9%;
- Bicyclist deaths (840 fatalities – the highest number since 1991) increased by 1.3%.
The percentage of fatalities in multi-vehicle rollovers increased the most at 9.1%. However, the number increase for this crash type (an additional 130 fatalities) is a relatively small increase compared to the other crash types in the figure, the agency stressed.
The proportion increase in nighttime fatalities jumped 6.3% compared to the daytime fatality increase of 4.8%, while the proportion increase in weekend fatalities increased by 5.9% compared to an increase of 5.3% on weekdays, NHTSA noted.
Fatalities in single vehicle crashes increased by 1,180, a 5.9% increase, while multi-vehicle crash fatalities also increased, but by a lower rate of 5.1%.
Every month except January, August, and December witnessed increases in fatalities from 2015 to 2016, the agency added, with the highest increase occurring in February at 22.7%.
The number of young drivers 16 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes increased by 3.6% in 2016 compared to 2015, NHTSA said, with the number of young drivers who died in fatal crashes also increasing but only by 0.1% year-over-year.