National Safety Council Estimates 40,000 Roadway Deaths in 2016, Complacency is Killing Us.

The national Safety Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities through advocacy, education, research, and leadership just released its preliminary data for 2016.  It estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents on US roadways last year.  Their findings suggest that our roadways are becoming increasingly less safe despite the enhanced safety features of new vehicles.

This number is 6% higher than 2015 and 14% higher than 2014.  This is the largest increase in roadway deaths in 53 years based on a 2-year escalation.  Their findings revealed that an estimated 4.6 million additional roadway users had to seek medical attention due to injuries with an estimated $432 billion in cost to society.

The National Safety Council conducted a survey and their findings were startling, most drivers believed that driving is a safety concern but 64% admitted that they are comfortable driving faster than the speed limit, 47% said they text either hands-free or manually while driving, and another 13% admitted to driving while intoxicated or high.

The fatalities recorded by the National Safety Council are different from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  NSC uses data from both public and private roadways and follows the accidents 100 days after a crash where NHTSA only follows deaths that occur within 30 days of an accident.

“Our complacency is killing us. Americans believe there is nothing we can do to stop crashes from happening, but that isn’t true,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The U.S. lags the rest of the developed world in addressing highway fatalities. We know what needs to be done; we just haven’t done it.”

An upward trend that shows no signs of subsidence has The National Safety Council advocating or immediate life-saving procedures that would set the nation on a road to zero deaths:

  • Through mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers and advanced education concerning the nature of impairment and when it begins.
  • Installation and use of automated enforcement techniques to catch speeders.
  • Extending laws banning all cell phone use – including hands-free – to all drivers, not just teens; upgrade enforcement from secondary to primary in states with existing bans.
  • Upgrade seat belt laws from secondary to primary enforcement and extend restraint laws to every passenger in every seating position in all vehicles.
  • Adopt a three-tiered licensing system for all new drivers under 21 – not just those under 18
  • Standardize and accelerate into the fleet automotive safety technologies with life-saving potential, including blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive headlights.
  • Pass or reinstate motorcycle helmet laws.
  • Adopt comprehensive programs for pedestrian safety.


The National Safety Council has issued traffic fatality estimates since 1921. Supplemental estimate information, including estimates for each state, offers insight into what drivers are doing and calls for immediate implementation of proven, life-saving measures.  To find state by state details and learn more about how you can get involved visit their the NSC website here.

N. Craig Richardson
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