The USA is unique in measuring deaths-by-distance-travelled per 100 million miles, which is referred to as the “Vehicle Miles Traveled” [VMT] rate. The rest of the international community, on the other hand, use one billion vehicle kilometres [“billion VKT”] for the metric, and that is the case in the following list. (View an easy method to convert the US VMT rate to the international figures.)
In monitoring its road safety standards, the USA prefers to use “deaths per 100 million Vehicle Miles Travelled” [VMT] rate, rather than the measure used by every other country, which is the “deaths per billion vehicle kilometres” [billion VKT] rate.
Does this matter? Does it make any difference? The answer is yes, it certainly does, even if only psychologically. For anyone who does not know much about road safety it means that America’s rate cannot readily be compared with the rates in other countries. This is a pity because frankly America’s rate of deaths measured against distance travelled has long been, or at least should have long been, a national embarrassment which the powers-that-be apparently do not want the American people to understand, and the tiny numbers that are used to indicate each year’s VMT rate make it look like there’s no problem at all. But this apparently deliberate keeping people in the dark needs to stop.
So, first of all, let’s get the math out of the way that allows the VMT rate to be converted to the standard, global rate, in order that everyone can understand the situation.
Firstly, one billion kilometres is 621,371,192 miles, so divide that by 100 million and the answer is 6.214, so whenever you see the VMT rate published, you just multiply it by 6.214 and you will have the internationally-recognized billion kilometre [billion VKT] rate. Then, and only then, can you truly compare America’s road safety performance with the other ~29 developed nations of the world that along with the USA are members of the OECD*.
If you now look at Latest Multi-National VMT Road Death Rates – USA Makes Least Progress 1990-2015, you will see that not only does the USA lie in an extremely disappointing 18th place out of the 23 applicable countries for the year 2015 (the current latest figures) and has a billion-VKT death rate that is more than double the rate of the leading nations, but also — when the results are measured from the 25 years from 1990-2015, the USA has made dramatically less progress in cutting deaths than any other applicable country on the list.
From the figures, it can be seen that, if the USA could match the current, top billion-VKT results (i.e. Norway), approximately 22,000 lives would have been saved in road crashes in America in 2015 and even more in 2016 and 2017, because the number of deaths is increasing, year-on-year. [Note: This is a different result to the lives that could be saved if the U.S. were able to match the leading nations’ per capita rates, but given the way that countries’ rates do vary quite widely when using the various different metrics, this situation is not unusual.]
*OECD — Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Figures released by the USDOT on October 6, 2017, show that 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015. This followed an inaccurate estimation earlier this year by the National Safety Council [NSC] that the figure would be approximately 40,200.
In the context of the NSC’s miscalculation, the lower, more recent, and obviously more accurate figure from the USDOT and NHTSA is a relief but the situation is still very bad news. Apart from the 5.6% increase in fatalities from 2015-2016, the fact is that since 2014 the number of deaths on America’s roads and highways has soared swiftly upwards from 32,744 to 37,461, a two-year increase of 14.4 percent, representing almost 5,000 “extra” deaths in 2016 alone.
Rate(a) . Country
- 2.3. . . ..Norway
- 2.7. . . . Sweden
- 2.8 . . . .United Kingdom
- 3.1. . . . .Denmark
- 3.1. . . . .Switzerland
- 3.5. . . . Ireland
- 3.6. . . . Spain
- 3.7. . . . Netherlands
- 3.8. . . . Israel
- 3.8. . . . Japan
- 4.3. . . . Germany
- 4.9. . . . Finland
- 4.9. . . . Iceland (b)
- 5.1. . . . .Australia
- 5.2. . . . Canada
- 5.4. . . . France
- 5.6. . . . Austria
- 5.6. . . . Italy
- 5.7. . . . Portugal
- 5.8. . . . Slovenia
- 6.4. . . . Luxembourg (b)
- 6.5. . . . Belgium
- 6.5. . . . Hungary
- 6.9. . . . New Zealand
- 7.0. . . . Czech Republic
- 7.3. . . . Greece
- 7.7. . . . Poland
- 8.3. . . . Lithuania
- 8.4. . . . Serbia
- 9.1. . . . Korea
- 10.9. . . United States (c)
- 11.1.. . . .Morocco
- 11.9. . . .Chile
- 12.4 . . .Argentina (d)
- 13.3. . . Mexico
- 14.5. . . Cambodia
- 14.6. . . Uruguay
- 21.5. . . Malaysia
- 23.6. . .South Africa
Source: ITF / OECD (colored groupings added by ADoNA)
(a) Rate of road deaths per 100,000 members of the national population
(b) Iceland and Luxembourg experience the most inconsistent annual rates due to their very small population sizes
(c) Statistics published by the USDOT on October 6, 2017, show that during 2016 US road deaths increased by a further 5.6 percent and the per capita rate of deaths rose to 11.59 — See: Over 37,000 People were Killed on America’s Roads and Highways in 2016
(d) 2014 data (OECD)
Numbering in the left-hand column is only for easy reference. Countries with identical rates should not be separated or ranked by this.
Green text: A rate under 3
Orange text: A rate less than double that of the leading country
Purple text: A rate 2-4 times greater than that of the leading country
Red text: A ‘per capita’ rate more than four times higher than that of the leading country
Perhaps 6-8 years ago, the US DOT and NHTSA published a statistic online that identified a thoroughly horrifying situation. Put simply, it said that the chances for every young person in the USA being involved in a serious-injury or fatal road crash at some point in their life is an astonishingly-high “fifty-fifty.” At that time, I looked at my four American step-daughters and wondered which two — statistically speaking — it might be. That statistic, however, very swiftly disappeared off the Internet.
Now, however, I also have six American grandchildren, and just today — August 11, 2017 — another statistic has been published on Facebook by NHTSA which very effectively renews my concerns. It said exactly this:
Lawmakers Decry Two Hit-And-Run Road Deaths in Brooklyn
…Police say that at 12:28 a.m, Saturday, Neftaly Ramirez, 27, was biking along Franklin Street in Greenpoint when he was struck by a white and green garbage truck traveling southbound on Franklin at the intersection of Noble Street. The driver, who police say worked for a private sanitation company, did not stop, and by the time police and EMS workers arrived, Ramirez was dead. The driver has not been found and the case remains under investigation.
Continue reading “Around 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and >250 are killed each year in traffic crashes”
In July 2016 — with a very welcome degree of frankness and honesty that I have not seen from other top-level road safety bodies in the USA — the Center for Disease Control [CDC] wrote: “…more than 32,000 people are killed and 2 million are injured each year from motor vehicle crashes. In 2013, the US crash death rate was more than twice the average of other high-income countries… Motor vehicle crash deaths in the US are still too high. There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013…” [Source]
However, since the figure of 32,719 deaths for 2013 became known, the number of road deaths has catapulted upwards and the National Safety Council [NSC] now estimates that 40,200 people were killed on America’s roads in 2016, which will represent a frankly catastrophic, 23 percent increase in just three years.
Despite the CDC’s refreshing frankness, however, there was still one aspect of their associated document which, from any layman reader’s perspective, would appear to significantly play-down the scale of the situation, and this is implied in the graphic shown below.
One week ago, on July 10, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] published their periodic “Safety Compass” blog. The post in question was called “Best Days of Their Lives” and is very good, in relation to the safety of young drivers.
Some people think it is wrong to make the following comparison so I will apologize now to anyone who is offended, but the ongoing situation is so pointless and so crucial to the well-being of Americans that I hope you will forgive me for doing so:
“September 11, 2017, will be the 16th anniversary of the evil attacks on four planes, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, but did you know that for every single person killed on that truly awful day, over 200 people have since been killed on America’s roads? Yes, a total of almost two-thirds of a million people slaughtered in U.S. highway crashes, plus around 40 million injured, in just 16 years. And almost all Americans, including supposedly responsible politicians, completely ignore this hideous and unnecessary travesty because what?” Eddie Wren, Advanced Drivers of North America, Inc. — July 13, 2017.
Also see: Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Capita’ Rate, 2015 (2015 being the latest figures available as at July 2017. Figures for 2016 should become available within weeks.)
Motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities continued their steady six-year rise in Arizona in 2016, according to the most recent data from the state’s Department of Transportation.
At a time when the state’s population grew by an average 1.4 percent a year, the number of vehicle crashes rose an average 2.8 percent a year between 2011 and 2016, while injuries rose 1.8 percent a year and fatalities increased by 4.1 percent per year, according to the DOT’s Annual Crash Facts Report released last month.
The cost of those crashes mounted in the billions each year, although a recent change in how the state measures those numbers makes a direct year-to-year comparison difficult.
Experts point to several possible reasons for the rise in crashes, ranging from lax state laws on highway safety to bad drivers….
One key thing that has not been mentioned in the “reasons for the rise in crashes” is the inevitable involvement of the end of the financial recession. It is a proven fact that when a recession strikes, the overall mileage driven in vehicles decreases and the numbers of crashes and deaths fall. And when a recession ends, the opposite occurs.
It is ironic that as road deaths fell during the early part of the ‘2008’ recession all sorts of departments were claiming the credit for the significant drop in crashes and deaths, but now that the numbers are increasing once again, nobody wants to take the responsibility anymore!