Road deaths in the U.S. climbed 5.6% in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A total of 37,461 people lost their lives on U.S. roads, NHTSA said. Speeding-related deaths rose 4%, while deaths among vehicle occupants not wearing a seat belt increased 4.6%. A total of 10,111 people died in speeding-related crashes. A total of 10,428 people who weren’t wearing a seat belt died in crashes.
The year 2016 also saw the largest number of motorcycle fatalities since 2008 — 5,286 deaths — representing a 5.1% increase compared to 2015, according to NHTSA. Pedestrian deaths increased 9% to reach 5,987 fatalities, the highest number since 1990. Bicycle deaths increased 1.3% to reach 840 deaths, the highest number since 1991. Drunk-driving fatalities inched up 1.7%, reaching 10,497 fatalities.
On the other hand, distraction-related deaths dropped 2.2% (3,450 fatalities), and drowsy-driving deaths fell 3.5% (803 fatalities), NHTSA said.
During 2016, the number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads rose 2.2% and contributed to a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That represents a 2.6% increase from 2015.
In releasing the latest figures, NHTSA noted in a statement that the agency will continue to promote vehicle technologies that “hold the potential to reduce the number of crashes and save thousands of lives every year, and may eventually help reduce or eliminate human error and the mistakes that drivers make behind the wheel.”
An estimated 94% of serious crashes are linked to poor driver choices.