Feds report concerning uptick in highway fatalities

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016. That’s an increase of 5.6 percent from 2015. Because the number of miles driven increased as well, the overall increase in deaths per 100 million miles traveled is 2.6 percent.

NHTSA reported that distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behavior, like speeding, alcohol impairment, and not wearing seatbelts, continued to climb. Motorcyclists and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the increase.

Other findings from the 2016 national data:

  • More than 10,000 fatalities resulted from failure to wear seatbelts, an increase of 4.6 percent.
  • There were 5,286 motorcyclist deaths, the largest number since 2008.
  • There were 3,450 distraction-related fatalities, a drop of 2.2 percent.
  • There were 10,111 speeding-related deaths, an increase of 4 percent.

NHTSA continues to work closely with state and local partners, law enforcement agencies, and members of its Road to Zero Coalition to address the human choices that are linked to 94 percent of serious crashes. As well, NHTSA actively promotes vehicle technologies that may potentially reduce crashes and save lives.

Driving home the safety message

If you can answer yes to the following questions, you’re taking steps to protect your workers and drive down the number of roadway crashes and fatalities.

  • Do you have a written safe driving policy that covers employees who drive on the job and the use of company vehicles?
  • Are employees familiar with all the terms of this policy?
  • Does your policy forbid the use of alcohol and drugs?
  • Does your policy define disciplinary action that will be taken as a result of alcohol or drug use in connection with driving company vehicles or on company business?
  • Does your policy include provisions regarding using cell phones, texting, eating, using earphones, etc., while driving?
  • Do you require employees who drive on the job to wear seat belts?
  • Do you require employees to obey speed limits and all other traffic safety rules?
  • Do you discuss the dangers of road rage with your drivers and teach them how to deal with angry or aggressive drivers?
  • Do you train employees who drive on the job in safe driving rules, techniques, and attitudes?
  • Do you evaluate driving skills and attitudes on a regular basis, requiring passing scores to continue driving?
  • Do you retrain drivers who perform poorly in evaluations?
  • Do you teach drivers how to perform pre-driving safety inspections on their vehicles?
  • Are your delivery and trip schedules reasonable and can they be accomplished without driver fatigue?