During the first six months of 2013, 1,471 people died in California car accidents. During the same time period in 2014, there were fewer deaths and 1,302 people died in car accidents. Unfortunately, in 2015, the death toll jumped significantly. There were 1,566 people killed between January and June of 2015. This reflects a six percent increase in the number of people killed during the same time period in 2015 compared with in 2013. It is also a 20 percent increase compared with the number of people who died in 2014, according to National Safety Council.
There were more than 30 states that experienced similar jumps in traffic accident deaths in the first half of the year, when NSC released its report. Unfortunately, the death rate remained high during all of 2014. Now, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its report on preliminary data for the year, which shows crash fatalities rising nationwide. The troubling report was accompanied by a statement indicating the significant rise in motor vehicle accident deaths over the course of 2015 should be a "call to action." Going into the New Year, motorists should make a commitment to safer choices so 2016 does not see even more people dying in motor vehicle accidents.
NHTSA Data Shows Rising Fatality Rates in Car Crashes in 2015
According to NHTSA's report on car crash fatalities in 2015, there was an 8.1 percent increase in the number of people who died in car crashes this year, as compared to 2014. In 2014, 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes over the course of the year. Of those deaths, 21,022 Americans were in vehicles at the time (the rest were on bicycles, were on motorcycles, or were pedestrians involved in collisions with cars).
Not only did the total number of people dying in car crashes rise by 8.1 percent, but the fatality rate also rose by 4.4 percent. The fatality rate estimates number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Fatality rates measure whether there were actually more accidents per miles driven, or whether crash rates rose simply because of an increase in drivers on the roads. The fatality rate in 2014 was 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles, which was the lowest since crash data has been recorded and collected.
There were more people on the roads in 2015, both because of improving economic conditions and because of falling gas prices. However, the elevated fatality rate suggests there were not only more people, but also that motorists were less safe. Drivers can help to combat rising crash rates by making better decisions on road safety in 2016. This means avoiding high-risk behaviors like:
- Driving drunk, which caused 1/3 of fatalities in car crashes in 2014.
- Driving drowsy, which caused 2.6 percent of fatalities in collisions.
- Driving distracted, which caused 10 percent of fatalities in collisions.
Motor vehicle accidents don't have to rise so significantly just because the economy gets better or gas gets more affordable. Drivers can work together to make 2016 a better year by taking basic safety steps to avoid collisions.