Report: Motor Vehicle Crashes Claimed More Lives in 2016

Traffic jam in Massachusetts

Fatal car crashes in the U.S. rose more than 5 percent in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The roads were far more dangerous in 2016, with 37,461 people killed in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. This represents a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. Passenger and motorcyclist deaths reached an 8-year high. More cyclists and pedestrians were killed than in any year since the early 1990s.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the 2016 figures from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Pedestrian and Cyclist Injuries
Nationwide, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in 2016, representing a 9 percent increase. This is the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990. That’s right – the highest in nearly 18 years. Cyclists (called pedalcyclists in the NHTSA report) were also in harm’s way. Across the country, 840 cyclists were killed last year. This is the highest number of cyclist deaths since 1991.

Rise in Passenger Deaths
Last year brought the most passenger deaths in the U.S. since 2008. There was a 4.7 percent increase – or 1,075 more lives lost – over 2015. This counts passengers of passenger cars, SUVs, vans and pick-up trucks. Passengers were only wearing seatbelts in 48 percent of car accidents where seat belt status was known, even though 49 of 50 states have seat belt laws. All 50 states have child passenger safety seat laws.

A good reason to wear a seatbelt: nearly 90 percent of victims who survived fatal daytime crashes last year were buckled in. About 84 percent of nighttime crash survivors were wearing seatbelts.

In Massachusetts, the law requires drivers and passengers to wear seat belts. This law is M.G.L. c.90 § 13A.

Failure to wear a seat belt in Massachusetts is an offense with secondary enforcement. Police officers must have another cause to pull your vehicle over, but if they do and you are not wearing a seat belt, you can be fined $25 for each offense and the violation could impact your insurance rate. You can be fined an additional $25 for each passenger under 16 who is not wearing a seat belt. Older passengers will receive their own $25 fine. But more important than fines, if you are not wearing a seatbelt, you really are putting yourself at great risk.

5 Percent Increase in Motorcycle Fatalities
More than 5,280 motorcyclists were killed in motorcycle crashes last year, a 5.1 percent increase. Again, this was the highest number of motorcycle deaths since 2008. This report did not include a state-by-state breakdown, but motorcyclist deaths in Massachusetts have been climbing in recent years. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has reported 44 motorcyclists were killed in Massachusetts in 2015. This was an increase from 2014 and accounted for 14 percent of all traffic deaths in Massachusetts.

Alcohol-Impaired Driving: 28 Percent of All Car Accident Deaths
Drunk drivers killed 37,461 people across the country in 2016, a 1.7 increase over 2015. In Massachusetts, 119 people died in crashes caused by drunk drivers in 2016. This was a 9.2 percent increase. Massachusetts was not alone; 38 states and Washington D.C. saw motor vehicle fatalities caused by drunk drivers rise last year. The other 12 states saw a reduction in fatalities.

Drivers of passenger vehicles were most likely to cause fatal drunk driving crashes; 4,250 drunk drivers caused crashes in 2016, up 3 percent from 2015. Drivers of light pick-up trucks caused 2,052 of these deaths. Drivers of light utility trucks, motorcyclists, vans and large trucks accounted for the rest of fatal crashes. Alcohol-impaired drivers of large trucks caused 58 deaths last year.

Distracted Driving Now Causes 9 Percent of All Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths
Distracted driving caused 9.2 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities in the U.S. last year. But the actual number of distracted driving deaths dropped 2.2 percent last year, to 3,450 deaths.

Teens Involved in Fatal Crashes Rise
Drivers age 16 to 20 were involved in 3.6 more fatal crashes in 2016. The actual number of young drivers who died was up .1 percent. But there were 3.6 percent more young drivers, ages 16 to 20, involved in fatal vehicle crashes last year.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston car accident lawyers of Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by negligent or reckless driving. Our attorneys provide aggressive representation and represent those who have been injured by car accidents across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Waltham and Quincy. If you have been injured, contact our firm for a free legal consultation. Call us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.