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Drive Carefully, Michigan! MDOT & NHTSA Report Huge Jumps In Car Accident Deaths

July 11, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Study Shows Significant Increases In Motor Vehicle Accident Traffic Fatalities For Bicyclists, Pedestrians, Motorcyclists And Young Drivers


Car accident deaths are up nearly 8% across the country, according to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

And it’s even worse here in Michigan where motor vehicle accident traffic crash fatalities are up approximately 10%.

Fatal collision statistics from NHTSA and MDOT

In its July 2016 “Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2015” study, NHTSA reported:

“[T]raffic fatalities,” i.e., the number of “people [who] died in motor vehicle traffic crashes” jumped 7.7% from 32,675 in 2014 to 35,200 in 2015.

And, in its July 5, 2016, e-mail “Michigan Statewide Fatalities/Serious Injuries to Date for July 5, 2016,” the Michigan Department of Transportation reported:

“25 people died on Michigan roadways since last week making a total of 465 this year … Compared to last year at this time there are 45 more fatalities …”

As you’ll see below, NHTSA’s study shows that car accident fatalities also increased for motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, large trucks and young drivers. MDOT’s e-mail did not provide details about deaths in Michigan by motorcycle crash, pedestrians being hit by cars, bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles or young drivers, but we can safely assume Michigan also saw similar, if not higher, increases in all of these categories considering our fatalities from car accidents eclipsed the national average by 3%.

More traffic crash fatalities among bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists

Bicyclists (or “pedalcyclists”) topped the list for increased traffic deaths (grouped by victim-type) in NHTSA’s study.

Types of persons Percentage increase in traffic crash fatalities between 2014 and 2015
Drivers 6%
Passenger 7%
Motorcyclist 9%
Pedestrian 10%
Pedalcyclist 13%

Traffic deaths increase for young drivers, crashes involving large trucks

Deaths jumped 10% in fatal crashes “[i]nvolving a [y]oung [d]river” (15 to 20 years of age) in NHTSA’s study.

Crash types Percentage increase in traffic crash fatalities between 2014 and 2015
Involving a Young Driver 10%
Passenger vehicle rollovers 5%
Involving a Large Truck 4%

Why are car accident deaths on the rise?

Here’s what NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind had to say in a July 1, 2016, press release:

“As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles … But that only explains part of the increase. Ninety-four percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error, so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place.”

That certainly is a big part of it.  From my own practice as an attorney focusing on motor vehicle accidents, and the studies I’ve seen and written about extensively on this auto law blog, I would add to it the epidemic that both I and the other lawyers are seeing in texting and other forms of distracted driving.

An excellent illustration of this is the study from AAA-Foundation for Traffic Safety which found that distracted driving causes nearly 60% of car crashes involving teen drivers. To learn more, please check out my blog post, “Distracted driving causes 58% of teen crashes.”


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