New National Safety Council Data Show 18 Percent Increase in Motor-Vehicle Fatalities Nationwide Compared to 2014

Media Contacts

Highlights Need to Prioritize Transit, Biking, and Pedestrian Solutions

U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

New data released this week from the National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit, nongovernmental 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 there were more than 19,000 fatalities in the first half of the year, an 18 percent increase from the same period in 2014. The data also show an estimated 2.2 million injuries, and an expected total cost of $205.5 billion nationwide – reflecting the cost of deaths, injuries, and property damage. 

“In the first half of 2016, motor-vehicle fatalities are up 18 percent compared to the same period in 2014. This is a grim reminder of the human cost of our failure to adequately invest in transit, biking, and pedestrian transportation options, as well as road repair,” said John Olivieri, National Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the United States Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. “Riding transit is 20 to 60 times safer than driving, yet only 1 in 5 available federal transportation dollars go to transit. Meanwhile, the money we do spend on roads largely goes to new and wider highways rather than maximizing driver safety,” he added.

Research by the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute published in the Journal of Public Transportation has shown that using transit increases safety. Specifically, 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.

According to the NSC, the increase in fatalities in 2016 likely reflects the effects of low gas prices, which is putting upward pressure on driving resulting in more fatalities and injuries. 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. With Labor Day around the corner, the NSC is predicting more than 430 deaths during the upcoming weekend, which would make it the deadliest Labor Day since 2008.

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.