US Motor Vehicle Deaths Top 40000 in 2016, Safety Group Says

The National Safety Council, a nonprofit safety advocacy group, also released survey findings showing that 47 percent of motorists are comfortable texting while driving.

For the first time in almost a decade, preliminary 2016 data from the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes previous year - marking a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014.

Last year as many as 40,000 people died on our nation's roads and highways, up more than six percent from 2015 and 14 percent from the year before, the biggest two-year jump in more than half a century.

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"These results underscore how our complacency is killing us", Deborah Hersman, chief executive of the National Safety Council, said during a press conference Wednesday. "It's critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on US roads".

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a fatal multi-vehicle crash on the eastbound side of the Bronx Expressway in the Bronx section of New York, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016.

The National Safety Council measures roadside deaths differently than NHTSA.

In the last three years, 13 states have raised speed limits on at least some portion of their interstate highways.

Traffic deaths began dropping in 2008 and reached their lowest point in six decades in 2011 at 32,000 deaths. Some 10 percent of drivers reported driving drunk, and 43 percent of them were involved in a crash while impaired, the group said.

Teens, who have the highest fatal crash rates, are also back on the road after the recession when many of them couldn't afford to drive as much, he said.

Wednesday, the National Safety Council released new data and a new plan to make the roads safe.

The surge in motor vehicle fatalities comes even as more cars are being equipped with crash avoidance technology such as automatic braking, blind spot detection and automatic headlights.

Ironically, survey respondents listed distracted driving, drugged driving, aggressive driving, drunken driving and speeding as their top safety concerns, yet they are exactly the risky behaviors drivers admit to doing while behind the wheel.

  • Arturo Norris