Highway fatalities represented 1.3% of all deaths in 2015, according to a new research report from the University of Michigan’s Sustainable Worldwide Transportation group. Researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle compiled the report based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The six states with the highest fatality rates per 100,000 people are Wyoming (24.7), Mississippi (22.6), Montana (21.7), South Carolina (20.0), Arkansas (17.8) and Alabama (17.5).
The lowest fatality rates were posted in the District of Columbia (3.4), Rhode Island (4.3), Massachusetts (4.5), New York (5.7) and New Jersey (6.3).
The researchers compared these fatality rates to deaths from cancer, heart diseases, lung diseases, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Compared with the nation’s biggest killer — heart diseases — which killed 197.2 Americans per 100,000 population in 2015, car crashes killed 10.9, about 5.5% of the number who succumb to heart diseases.
As a percentage of deaths from all causes, highway fatalities accounted for 3% of all deaths in Wyoming, 2.3% of Montana deaths and 2.1% of deaths in Mississippi, North Dakota and South Carolina, compared to 0.4% of all deaths in Rhode Island and 0.5% of all deaths in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts.
Among their conclusions, Sivak and Schoettle particularly note that the ratio between the highest (Wyoming) and the lowest (D.C.) highway fatality rates is 7.3, compared with a ratio of just 2.1 for deaths from all causes between the highest (West Virginia, 1,233.88) and the lowest (Utah, 578.6).
According to the NHTSA, 35,092 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2015, a year-over-year increase of 7.2%, the biggest increase since 1966 when the year-over-year increase hit 8.1%. In 2016, highway traffic deaths rose another 5.6% to 37,461. Vehicle miles traveled rose 3.5% year over year in 2015 and another 2.2% in 2016.
In 2016, traffic deaths involving unrestrained occupants totaled 10,428, deaths related to speeding totaled 10,111, and deaths related alcohol-impaired driving totaled 10,497.