Traffic fatalities rose 5.6% last year, with the biggest spikes in pedestrian and motorcyclist deaths, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently said.
There were 37,461 people killed on U.S. roads in 2016 as Americans continue to drive more, according to the NHTSA. That’s the highest number of deaths since 2007. The fatality rate was 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 2.6% increase from the previous year.
Traffic deaths have been increasing since late 2014, as gas prices have fallen and people started driving more. In 2016, the total number of miles driven in the U.S. rose 2.2%.
Pedestrian deaths last year hit their highest level since 1990, with 5,987 people killed. That figure represents a 9% increase from the previous year. Motorcyclist deaths were up 5.1%, reaching their highest level—5,286 killed—since 2008. Together, they accounted for more than a third of the increase in fatalities compared with 2015.
Bicycle deaths increased only slightly, 1.3%, but were at their highest number—840 killed—since 1991.
Deaths related to distracted and drowsy driving declined. Those declines were more than offset by other dangerous behaviors, including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts, the safety administration said.
The large increases in fatalities of 2015 and 2016 eliminated more than a third of the progress over the past decade in reducing the number of people killed on the roads each year.
Source: NHTSA / Associated Press / PBS