Preliminary numbers from the National Safety Council indicate motor vehicle deaths in 2017 dipped slightly, claiming 40,100 lives across the U.S.
In 2016, a total of 40,327 people died on American roadways, according to NSC. The Council cautions, however, that the slight dip doesn’t necessarily indicate progress when it comes to reducing highway deaths, but rather it could be just a leveling off after the steepest two-year increase in highway deaths in more than 50 years.
The estimated 2017 number is still 6 percent higher than the number of highway deaths in 2015, NSC’s numbers indicate.
“The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah 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’s numbers do not include specific crash data, such as how many of the highway deaths were as a result of a truck-involved accident. The data is drawn from monthly fatality reports from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The state with the largest percentage drop in highway fatalities from 2016 to 2017 was New Hampshire, which saw a 26 percent decrease in highway deaths from 137 in 2016 to 102 in 2017. Iowa had the second-largest percentage decrease, falling 18 percent from 403 in 2016 to 331 in 2017.
The state with the largest percentage increase in highway fatalities was Rhode Island, which saw a 58 percent increase from 45 highway deaths in 2016 to 84 in 2017.