By Brad Sant, senior vice president of safety and education, ARTBA

Since 2007, deaths on U.S. roadways have remained well below 40,000 per year—until now.  According to a new report released by the National Safety Council (NSC), an estimated 40,200 people died from U.S. traffic crashes last year, a 6 percent increase compared with 2015 and 14 percent over 2014. NSC says this is the sharpest two-year rise since 1964 and a climb of nearly 8,000 deaths since the record low of 32,479 in 2011.

While these numbers are preliminary estimates, NSC attributed the increase in roadway fatalities to an improved economy and lower gas prices which allowed people to travel more miles in recent years.

The rate increase tracks escalations in work zone related fatalities, which have also climbed in recent years, from a low of 586 deaths in 2010 to 700 in 2015 (the latest year for which data is available).*

Year 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Work Zone Related Deaths 831 716 680 586 590 617 593 669 700
Total U.S. Rodway Deaths 41,259 37,423 33,883 32,999 32,479 33,561 32,719 32,675 35,902

* Fatality numbers were obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.