Safer cars, yet road fatalities continue to increase

Road fatalities have increased significantly in the past few years. The National Safety Council (NSC) found that the number of fatalities on U.S. roads rose by 14 percent since 2015, the largest two-year increase in five decades. This isn’t just an issue in the states – it’s a global problem. The World Health Organization reports that annually, there are 50 million road injuries and 1.25 million road traffic deaths worldwide.

Road-related injuries and deaths continue to increase.


The numbers continue to rise, yet cars are safer now than ever before. With vehicles being equipped with features such as lane keeping assistance, backup cameras, automatic emergency braking, braking assistance, blind spot monitors, drowsiness alerts, among others, automobiles have become almost fool proof. These safety features offer peace of mind to drivers and do help to reduce the number of minor collisions.  However, if cars are safer, why do the number of road fatalities continue to increase?

In February 2017, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that U.S. driving topped 3.2 trillion miles in 2016. It’s the fifth straight year of increases in the number of miles driven. With people driving more, there is a higher chance of road fatalities which helps explain the increase. However, looking at mileage is only part of the story. People are driving more in safer cars, but humans are still behind the wheel. Human error is the single most important factor that causes road traffic deaths and injuries.

CMT’s data, based on verified real-world crashes and near crashes, and more than a billion miles of driving with CMT apps, shows drivers in a crash have 3.0x more excessive speeding, 3.4x more phone distraction, and 1.8x more hard braking activity. American drivers, in general, are significantly distracted by their phones on nearly 31% percent of all drives.  Through our DriveWell program, we’ve proven that making drivers more aware of unsafe behaviors helps them become better drivers.  April is Distracted Driving Awareness month so over the next couple of weeks, we will share more information on this serious issue.

For an advanced look at the data, please check out these infographics:

Phones & Cars: Weapons of Mass Distraction

Making Drivers Safer: Do anti-phone laws really work?