National Safety Council: Traffic Deaths Down Slightly in 2017

Traffic deaths may be down slightly, but if preliminary estimates hold true, 2017 numbers will still top 40,000 deaths for the second year in a row according to the National Safety Council.

U.S. Traffic Accident Deaths Fall Slightly

The NSC says preliminary data shows deaths in traffic accidents fell 1% in 2017, claiming 40,100 lives versus the 40,327 in 2016. But the organization says the small decline doesn’t show progress as much as a leveling off of the steepest two-year increase in over 50 years.

The 2017 assessment is still 6% higher than the number of deaths in 2015. One reason traffic deaths are up overall for is that more people are hitting the road due to an improved economy.

Number of People Injured Drops Slightly

Approximately 4.57 million people were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, and costs to society totaled $413.8 billion. Both figures are about 1% lower than 2016 calculations.

“The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. 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 Safety Tips

Here’s what you can do to make the roadways safer:

  • Practice defensive driving: Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue and drive attentively, avoiding distractions

  • Don’t Drive Impaired: Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from prescription opioids; visit to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis

  • Monitor Teen Drivers: Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits; visit for resources

  • Understand Today’s Car Safety Systems: Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them; visit for information

  • Fix recalls immediately: visit to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall

  • Support Traffic Safety Laws: Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways; NSC State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws

How Data Is Collected

NSC has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature. NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.

Photo Credit: Daniel Fung/Shutterstock
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