Auto-Related Fatalities Up, Says NHTSA
Preliminary data released recently by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that motor traffic deaths rose by 7.7% in 2015, compared with 2014 (35,200 deaths vs. 32,675). Of the 10 regions into which the NHTSA divides the United States for statistical purposes, nine had increased traffic deaths in 2015. The most significant increase was seen in accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Every American should be able to drive, ride, or walk to their destination safely, every time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We are analyzing the data to determine what factors contributed to the increase in fatalities and at the same time, we are aggressively testing new safety technologies, new ways to improve driver behavior, and new ways to analyze the data we have, as we work with the entire road safety community to take this challenge head-on.”
“As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. 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 NHTSA hopes to develop new tools to protect pedestrians and cyclists that could address recklessness, drunk or drugged driving, distracted or drowsy driving, and failure to use safety features. The DOT is also looking to promote development of new safety technologies, particularly those that might decrease the number of crashes.
The department, through its various agencies, is placing priority on new safety measures. One example of these is the recent agreement with automakers that will require more than 99% of new vehicles to have automatic emergency braking standard by 2022. The DOT is also urging the requirement of vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems on new vehicles, which it says could avoid or mitigate 70 to 80% of vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers.