Motor Vehicle Deaths Plateaued in 2017, But Still Up from 2015

​Itasca, IL, Thursday, February 15, 2018– Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths dipped slightly – 1% – in 2017, claiming 40,100 lives versus the 2016 total of 40,327. The small decline is not necessarily an indication of progress as much as a leveling off of the steepest two-year increase in over 50 years. The 2017 assessment is 6% higher than the number of deaths in 2015. If the estimate holds, it will be the second consecutive year that motor vehicle deaths topped 40,000.

Approximately 4.57 million people were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, and costs to society totaled $413.8 billion. Both figures are about 1% lower than 2016 calculations.

“The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us. The only acceptable number is zero; we need to mobilize a full court press to improve roadway safety.”

NSC has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature. NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.

Factors impacting motor vehicle fatality trends include an improved economy, which has helped fuel a 1% increase in miles driven from 2016 to 2017.

To help ensure safer roads, NSC urges motorists to:

  • Practice defensive driving: Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue and drive attentively, avoiding distractions
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from prescription opioids; visit to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits; visit for resources
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them; visit for information
  • Fix recalls immediately; visit to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall
  • Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways; NSC State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws
  • Join the Road to Zero to understand how safety professionals are addressing motor vehicle fatalities; visit to get involved

Supplemental estimate information

About the National Safety Council

The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

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