The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Highway Deaths Responsible for Rise in Transportation Fatalities

November 22, 2017

Source: NTSB
Source: NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board has released data showing that 2,030 more people died in transportation accidents in 2016 than in 2015, with highway deaths accounting for 95% of all transportation fatalities.

The data indicate 39,339 people lost their lives in transportation accidents in 2016, compared to the 37,309 who died in 2015. In addition to the increase in highway fatalities, rises were also seen in the marine and railroad sectors, with a slight decrease in aviation fatalities.

U.S. roadway deaths increased from 35,485 in 2015 to 37,461 in 2016. Of that number, fatalities in passenger vehicles increased from 12,761 in 2015 to 13,412 in 2016.

"Unfortunately, we continue to see increases in transportation fatalities," said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB chairman. "We can do more, we must do more, to eliminate the completely preventable accidents that claim so many lives each year. Implementation of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements has the greatest potential to reverse this alarming trend.”

Because of the increase in travel around holidays like Thanksgiving, NTSB is reminding drivers to watch out for distracted, drunk, and drowsy drivers, who are often key factors in highway deaths.

There was an increase in deaths from railroad and marine deaths for the year as well, but aviation deaths were down very slightly from 416 in 2015 to 412 in 2016. Most aviation deaths occur in civil aviation accidents. The number of fatal general aviation accidents decreased to 213 in 2016 resulting in the fatal accident rate dropping below 1 fatal accident per 100,000 flight hours for the first time in 50 years. Aviation statistics are tracked and compiled by the NTSB. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides marine statistics, and the U.S. Department of Transportation provides statistics for all other modes.

A link to the data tables for transportation fatalities for all modes may be found online here.

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  1. 1. Dave Wise [ November 27, 2017 @ 03:37AM ]

    is it possible; as more companies go to ELOGS, put poorly trained drivers behind the wheel and tell them to race a 14 hour clock; might that have something to do with more drivers having fatal accidents? Common sense tells me racing an arbitrary clock does not contribute to safe driving. Sadly the FMCSA would never admit this could be a cause because it goes against their preconceived ideas.

  2. 2. James [ November 27, 2017 @ 04:39AM ]

    Distracted drivers in cars and semi's. Cell phones and computers are the likely culprits. As far as the comments by Mr Wise, whether on paper or elogs a person has to have enough common sense to pull over if they are tired. Just because you have a fresh 11/14 does not mean you are rested.

  3. 3. Marvin [ November 27, 2017 @ 06:00AM ]

    Yes, James you are correct. A person 'should' have enough common sense to pull over if they are tired. However working for a large fleet is a whole dimension different than any world with common sense in it. In that world you ARE RESTED when that fresh 11/14 starts and don't question it. Taking a short nap would most likely cause question of the driver using that time for dubious reasons. And you are also correct about the phones and computers. When I see those computer screens sticking above the dash I can't help wondering about the distraction. Of course drivers today need to be told when and where to turn right & left, where and when to fuel & shower (if they shower at all), and where and when they can and should rest. It's a perfect world in the government's and companies eyes. And in their line of thinking ELDs are only going to make things more perfect. And forget about the passenger cars because squeezing those fine voters would cause such a stir that no politician wants. So all in all it appears that eutopia could be just around the next corner! Maybe as soon add a few thousand more brain dead steering wheel holders, who are stimulated only by visual and physical commands from the company computer, are placed on the job. Hold on to your hats!!

  4. 4. Harold Cain [ November 28, 2017 @ 12:41PM ]

    Sadly it has become an automated business with analytical data ruling the decision making within a trucking company. Driver turnover is over 60% across the nation and the chief reason drivers say why they leave is; "no one cares about me, talks to me anymore, I'm just a number and pay per mile is rotten. Run run run and make us money is the chief message he or she gets when they are tired, worn out and out of hours. If you want to keep your job, get good miles and good loads you learn how to lie, cheat and push your way thru traffic. And when you get that "citation" who pays for it? YOU! And the company say they had nothing to do with it; it was your choice.
    I drove 2.5 million miles for over five top companies and when I picked up that load and did the math for the delivery date and time and saw that I could not do it legally and called and reported it to dispatch; "Well do you want the load or not?".
    I'm not a robot! I'm more that just a number.
    Yes ELOGS are a distraction. Yes cell phones are a distraction. But when a driver feels that no one cares and he or she is just a number, what makes him or her care?
    With the depth of traffic across our nation, condition of roads and ELOGS coming on board the trucks, who is going to be the winner?
    You think it is bad now! It will be dog eat dog for hours, miles and loads.


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