GHSA Newsletter: NHTSA 2016 Fatality Data and NORC Study

In September, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) held its annual meeting—themed "Highway Safety in a New Era"—in Louisville, Kentucky. Over 600 highway professionals attended, and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao gave the keynote address, emphasizing the importance of infrastructure, behavior and technology working together to improve safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37,461 people lost their lives on U.S. roadways in 2016, which represents a 5.6 percent increase from 2015.

  • Alcohol, seat belts, and speed continue to top the list of contributing factors to traffic death.
  • Drunk driving accounted for 28 percent of fatalities, while speeding was involved in 27 percent.
  • Almost half (48 percent) of the passenger occupants killed were not wearing their seat belt.
  • Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities are also at their highest levels since 1990 and 1991, respectively.

The non-partisan and objective research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, and the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation (PIRE) partnered to study if the length of an administrative license revocation (ALR) matters when it comes to combating DUIs. In states with ALR laws, suspects can have their licenses immediately suspended or revoked.

The study found a greater proportion of fatal drunk-driving crashes in states without ALR laws. In states with ALR laws, as the suspension period increases—from one to 30 days, up to 181 days or more—the ratio of drinking drivers to non-drinking drivers in fatal crashes shortens considerably, suggesting longer ALR is having an effect.