The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released the most recent edition of Traffic Safety Facts, which reports traffic statistics from across the country for the year 2013. There’s good news in these numbers: Traffic accident fatalities declined in 2013 after a spike in 2012. Injuries also declined, from 2.4 million in 2012 to 2.3 million in 2013, although the NHTSA does not consider this statistically significant. Drunk driving crashes also declined in 2013, although by only 2.5 percent, compared to the 3.1 percent decline overall.
Significant Decline in Overall Traffic Fatalities and Injuries Since 1964
Despite the uptick in 2012, the number of traffic fatalities has declined significantly in the past 10 years, by about 25 percent. In fact, both the number and rate of traffic fatalities has gone down significantly since 1964, although there have been increases individual years over the previous year, such as that in 2012. In 1964, the traffic accident fatality rate per 100 million miles travelled was 5.39. In 2013, it was 1.1. In addition to the rate decline, the overall number of traffic fatalities also decreased, from 45,645 in 1964 to 32,719 in 2013. In fact, the rate for 2013, along with 2011, is the lowest ever recorded.
The numbers reported by the NHTSA include a breakdown of the types of accidents that caused the fatalities. The biggest improvement was a reduction in motorcycle accident fatalities of 5,000, or about 5.4 percent. Similarly, the number of alcohol-related motorcycle fatalities also declined, by about 8.3 percent. States with motorcycle helmet laws had far fewer fatalities than those states without such laws; in states without helmet laws, there were 1,704 fatalities in states without such laws compared to 150 fatalities in states with helmet laws.
Large Truck Fatalities Increase Slightly Overall
Although large truck fatalities increased only slightly, from 3,944 to 3,964, the number of truck accident fatalities resulting from alcohol consumption grew by about 18 percent. The number of non-occupants killed in truck accidents increased more, by about 13 percent. This last figure apparently refers to pedestrians, people trying to repair cars at the side of the road and law enforcement officials investigating stopped vehicles.
Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes Increase in New York
The number of fatal accidents involving drunk drivers grew by 7.4 percent in New York State. In Connecticut, the increase was even greater, 14 percent. In contrast, New Jersey, the other state in the tri-state area, saw a decrease in drunk driving fatalities of 11 percent. New York and Connecticut joined 16 other states and Washington, D.C. that had increases in fatal alcohol-related accidents.
THE NHTSA publishes a wealth of statistics about motor vehicle accidents at both the state and federal levels. The next post on the blog will drill down further into statistics related to New York and the tri-state area.