Statement on 2017 Motor Vehicle Crash Fatalities

  • October 3, 2018
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


October 3, 2018

Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294,


Statement of Cathy Chase,

President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

On 2017 Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths


New Government Data Shows Crash Deaths Continue to Top 37,000 a Year

Persistently High Crash Fatalities Underscore Need for Adoption of Effective Traffic Safety Laws and Proven Safety Technologies

Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new data showing that motor vehicle crash fatalities remain at unacceptably high levels.  While it is welcome news that our Nation experienced a 1.8 percent decrease in crash fatalities from 2016 to 2017, the fact remains that more than 100 people are killed in preventable motor vehicle crashes each day on average.  Further, the fatality toll in 2017 – 37,133 lives lost – is 14 percent above the record low of 32,479 in 2011.  This public health epidemic happening on our roads and highways should be a wake-up call to state and federal lawmakers to take immediate action such as enacting researched-based highway safety laws and ensuring widespread adoption of proven safety technologies in vehicles.  Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) should complete overdue Congressionally-mandated safety rulemakings.

Advocates’ 2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws rates states on laws shown to prevent crashes, deaths and injuries on our roads and highways.  These countermeasures address key traffic safety contributors to the mortality toll including distracted and impaired driving, inadequate seat belt and motorcycle helmet use, perilous teen driving and insufficient child passenger safety protections.  Unfortunately, more than 400 lifesaving laws are needed across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  As governors and state legislatures prepare for the 2019 legislative session, the newly released data should propel them to prioritize passage of proven highway safety laws.

Additionally, it is unacceptable that so many people continue to die on our roads while verified, lifesaving technologies like automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning systems are not widely included as standard equipment in vehicles.  The U.S. DOT should promptly issue minimum standards requiring these safety technologies, which have been demonstrated to prevent and reduce the severity of crashes, in all new vehicles.  Moreover, while NHTSA reveals these horrific new fatality figures, U.S. DOT is remiss in taking action on a number of rulemakings which would improve the level of safety for all motorists.

The new NHTSA data also shows that crash fatalities involving large trucks jumped a staggering 41 percent since 2009.  With truck crash deaths skyrocketing, it is imperative that Congress reject any legislative effort to degrade truck safety such as attempts to weaken or rollback hours of service protections, evade Congressionally-mandated rules for electronic logging devices, hand over the keys to “teen truckers” to take the wheel of large trucks, and allow excessively bigger, heavier trucks on the road.

The tragic news is that traffic fatalities remain egregiously high and families across the country are unnecessarily suffering the loss of loved ones every day.  The good news is that we have solutions at hand: state traffic safety laws combined with adoption of effective safety technologies and upgrades in all vehicles.  This winning combination offers an immediate path forward to curb preventable crash deaths and injuries.