New National Safety Council Data Show 20% Percent Increase in Motor-Vehicle Fatalities in Massachusetts Compared to 2015

Media Contacts
Kirstie Pecci

Data Highlights Need to Invest in Transit, Biking, and Pedestrian Options



New data released from the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit, non- governmental public service organization chartered by Congress to promote health and safety in the United States, found a troubling increase in the number of motor-vehicle fatalities during the first half of 2016.

The new data show that in Massachusetts, there were 179 motor-vehicle fatalities from January 2016 through June 2016, a 20% percent increase compared to the same period in 2015.

“The 20% increase in driving fatalities is the human cost of our failure to adequately invest in transit, biking, and pedestrian choices, as well as road repair,” said Kirstie Pecci, MASSPIRG Staff Attorney. “With gas prices low, driving is up, and it appears that with driving up, there are more motor vehicle deaths. We need to give drivers transportation options.”

According to the NSC, the increase in fatalities in 2016 likely results from the low gas prices. On average, gas prices were 16% below 2015 prices for the first six months of 2016. This helped generate a 3.3% increase in cumulative vehicle mileage through May.

The new data make clear that increased driving has dire costs. Research by the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute published in the Journal of Public Transportation has shown that driving is among the most dangerous modes of travel. In particular, intercity rail is about 20 times safer than driving; riding metro or light rail is about 30 times safer; and riding the bus is about 60 times safer.

“What is most frustrating about this increase in fatalities is that it’s largely preventable. Investing in roads that are designed to calm traffic and increase options for people walking, biking and taking transit is not only a more efficient use of limited financial resources—it will saves lives,” said Stacy Thompson, Executive Director of LivableStreets Alliance and member of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition—a group working to eliminate fatal crashes in Massachusetts.

According to the NSC, the number of motor-vehicle related fatalities in the country increased 9% from the corresponding period in 2015, and 18 percent from 2014. An additional 2.2 million injuries were also reported in the first half of 2016. Taken together, the estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage through June was an estimated $205.5 billion nationwide.

“This new data should be a wake up call that we cannot continue to waste billons on new and wider highways that only serve to incentivize additional driving while neglecting critical investments in non-driving modes of transportation and repair of existing roads,” said John Olivieri, National Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the United States Public Interest Research Group. “Driving is one of the least safe forms of transportation we have available. This year alone, we are on track to lose 110 lives a day in this country. That is simply unacceptable,” he added.

With Labor Day around the corner, the NSC is predicting more than 430 deaths during the weekend, which would make it the deadliest Labor Day since 2008. And at our current rate, the U.S. could top 40,000 motor-vehicle fatalities this year for the first time in nearly a decade.

You can find more information on how states are wasting billions on highway expansion projects while ignoring other pressing needs in a recent report by Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, entitled, “Highway Boondoggles 2: More Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future.”The report can be found here.

You can find more information on the benefits of reduced driving in a recent report by MASSPIRG Education Fund and Transportation for Massachusetts, entitled, “What’s at Stake – How Decreasing Driving Miles in Massachusetts Will Save Lives, Money, Injuries, and the Environment.” The report can be found here.

You can find more information on how much states are spending on road expansion versus road repair in a report by Smart Growth America, entitled, “Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads.” The report can be found here.

MASSPIRG is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and

safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. For more information, visit