Savannah, GA,
08:59 PM

Fatality Rates Shift

Digging deeper into highway fatality numbers

A series of back-and-forth shifts in highway fatality rates over the last several years is highlighting, to a degree, the inverse impact of weather conditions on crash risk as well as concerns that the effect of distractive driving on fatality rates may be underreported.

“We’ve seen this before when we’ve looked at fatality data; milder winter weather usually results in a sudden ‘shooting up’ in highway crash fatalities,” John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic initiatives at the National Safety Council (NSC), told Fleet Owner. “That’s because more people drive in milder weather compared to snow storms, thus their ‘crash exposure’ risk increases.”

That’s why the 3% increase in deaths on U.S. roadways from 32,479 in 2011 to 33,561 in 2012 analyzed by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) -- which led Deborah A. P. Hersman, NTSB’s chairman, to declare the U.S. “has serious public health and safety epidemic on our highways” two weeks ago – then dropped 3% from 2012 to 2013, according to NSC’s research.