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NHTSA projects 7.7% increase in US traffic fatalities for 2015 year-on-year; significant increase in motorcyclist and non-occupant deaths

A just-released National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistical projection of traffic fatalities for 2015 that 35,200 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes—an increase of about 7.7% as compared to the 32,675 fatalities reported in 2014. If the 35,200 figure turns out to be accurate, this will mark the highest level of fatalities since 2008, which saw 37,423 fatalities.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) preliminary data shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2015 increased by about 107.2 billion miles—about a 3.5% increase. The fatality rate for 2015 increased to 1.12 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 1.08 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2014—about a 3.7% increase. Fourth quarter of 2015 represents the fifth consecutive quarter with year-to-year increases in fatalities as well as the fatality rate.

NHTSA analysis found significant increases in motorcyclist and non-occupant (pedestrian and pedalcyclist) deaths in 2015 as compared to 2014.

Among the changes:

  • 9% increase in motorcyclist fatalities
  • 10% increase in pedestrian fatalities
  • 13% increase in pedalcyclist fatalities
  • 6% increase in driver fatalities
  • 7% increase in passenger fatalities
  • 10% increase in fatalities in crashes involving young drivers (15-20 years old)
  • 4% increase in fatalities involving large trucks
  • 5% increase in roll-over fatalities

The data comes from several sources: FARS, FastFARS (FF), and Monthly Fatality Counts (MFC); and from FHWA’s VMT estimates. FARS is a census of fatal traffic crashes in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be included in FARS, a crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a trafficway and must result in the death of at least one person (occupant of a vehicle or a non-occupant) within 30 days of the crash.

NHTSA is continuing to gather data on crash fatalities for 2014 and 2015 using information from police crash reports and other sources. It is too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways.


The actual counts for 2014 and 2015 and the ensuing percentage change from 2014 to 2015 will be further revised as the final data are available later this year.



Are impaired drivers, more muscle high power vehicles and bad roads involved?

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