The number of car deaths fell 1.8% in 2017 compared to 2016. The total last year was 37,133. In the five largest states, based on population, they fell by an ever larger percentage. Across all 50 states, the percentages of increase and decrease varied substantially. The data were released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The overall trend in traffic fatalities is that they have dropped because of several factors. These include seat belt use, less driving by people impaired by alcohol, and airbags and other safety features.
Alcohol continued to be a factor in a huge number of deaths. “Alcohol-related-driving fatalities,” the government office’s term, were 29% of the national total. On a slightly positive note, these fell 1.1%. The figure was the lowest level since 1982, when data on these fatalities began to be kept.
The fatalities based on the major categories used by the NHTSA changed very little from 2008: 36% were in passenger cars, 27% were in light trucks and 4% were in heavy trucks and buses. Also, 14% were motorcyclists and 19% were pedestrians or bicycles.
The analysis also shows swings in deaths by state. According to the analysis:
Twenty-seven States had reductions in the number of fatalities. In 2017, the largest reduction was in California, with 235 fewer fatalities. Twenty-two States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had more motor vehicle fatalities in 2017 than in 2016. Indiana had the largest increase, with 85 additional fatalities. Only Delaware had no change from 2016 to 2017.