Fatalities caused by distracted driving decreased in 2016, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing seat belts – continued to increase, according to new figures released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The fatal traffic crash data, which was collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, showed that 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015.

The number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 VMT - a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year.

Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.

The 2016 national data shows that:

  • Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent,
  • Drowsy driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5 percent,
  • Drunk driving deaths (10,497 fatalities), increased by 1.7 per­cent,
  • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0 percent,
  • Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6 percent,
  • Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008) increased by 5.1 percent,
  • Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities – the highest number since 1990) increased by 9.0 percent,
  • Bicycle deaths (840 fatalities – the highest number since 1991) increased by 1.3 percent.

NHTSA continues to work closely with its state and local partners, law enforcement agencies, and the more than 350 members of the Road to Zero Coalition [external link] to help address the human choices that are linked to 94 percent of serious crashes.  NHTSA also continues 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. 

Click here to view 2016 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview

Click here to view 2016 Quick Facts (DOT HS 812

Stay connected with NHTSA: Search for open recalls using the VIN look-up tool | Download the SaferCar mobile app for Apple [external link] or Android [external link] devices | Receive recall alerts by e-mail | Visit us on Facebook.com/NHTSA [external link] | Follow us on Twitter.com/NHTSAgov [external link] | Watch 5-Star Safety Ratings crash tests on YouTube.com/USDOTNHTSA [external link].