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New York Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

New York, like the rest of the nation, has seen a significant spike in deadly auto accidents, according to the most recently published motor vehicle crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2015, a whopping 35,092 people died in traffic crashes in our country or a 7.2 percent increase in fatalities from 2014. The NHTSA reports that the percentage increase in car accident deaths in NY marked the largest one in nearly 50 years.

The percentage increase in traffic fatalities in New York actually exceeded the national average. According to the NHTSA, the total number of traffic accident deaths went from 1,041 in 2014 to 1,121 in 2015, or an increase of 7.7 percent.

Here, we take a closer look at these numbers and discuss some of the steps that are being taken in New York to improve traffic safety.

General Statistics for 2015

According to the NHTSA’s Quick Facts sheet, in 2015 there were:

  • 32,166 fatal crashes
  • 35,092 fatalities
  • 6,296,000 police-reported crashes and
  • 2,443,000 people injured.

In all categories – fatal crashes, fatalities, police-reported crashes, and the number of people injured – the rates were higher in 2015 than they were in 2013 or 2014. An average of 96 fatalities occurred per day in 2015, which was an increase from the 90 per day reported in 2013 and 2014.

Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Many different factors contribute to auto accidents. According to the NHTSA, some of the leading factors are:

Drinking and Driving

Alcohol played a significant role in motor vehicle accidents in New York and other states in 2015. The NHTSA reports that alcohol-impaired driving contributed to 9,306 crashes nationally and caused 10,265 fatalities. In New York, drunk driving caused 311 fatalities or 28 percent of all car accident deaths in NY.

Interestingly, motorcyclists were more likely than drivers of passenger cars, light trucks or large trucks to be involved in a deadly drunk driving accident.

The NHTSA shows that 27 percent of the drivers who were involved in fatal crashes who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher were motorcycle operators, while 21 percent were passenger car drivers, 20 percent light truck drivers and only 2 percent large truck drivers.


Speeding also played a major role in traffic accidents. Speeding-related fatalities in 2015 contributed to 27 percent of fatalities. This figure was slightly less than the 2014 and 2013 percentages, which 28 percent and 29 percent, respectively. In New York, speeding caused 343 fatalities in 2015.

Distracted Driving

Although the NHTSA provides no statistics on distracted driving-related accidents in 2015, we can look to New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV) statistics from 2014 to get an idea of how often distraction causes crashes in our state.

According to the NYSDMV, driver inattention or distraction caused 48,774 total crashes in our state in 2014, or nearly one-fifth of all accidents. The use of a hand-held or hands-free cell phone played a role in 644 of those crashes.

Large Truck Accidents

One of the biggest threats to drivers on the road are large trucks. When large trucks get involved in crashes, the repercussions are often severe. In 2015, nationally, 4,067 large truck accident-related fatalities occurred and 116,000 injuries, according to the NHTSA. Most of the deaths reported in truck accidents – 74 percent – were deaths of occupants of other vehicles.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents

A large number of pedestrians and bicyclists were involved in motor vehicle accidents in 2015. The NHTSA reports that 5,376 pedestrians died in collisions, while 818 bicyclists were killed.

What Is New York Doing to Improve Traffic Safety?

It is clear that auto accidents are a leading cause of death in New York and across the nation as well. Fortunately, federal traffic safety officials have launched a number of campaigns that seek to reduce the number of accidents such as the Don’t Drink and Drive, Click It or Ticket and U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaigns.

In addition to these national campaigns, you should read New York’s Highway Safety Plan here. As you can see, the plan focuses on both certain groups who are prone to crashes such as the very youngest and oldest drivers and on certain dangerous driving behaviors such as impaired driving, distracted driving, and speeding.

What Do These Car Accident Statistics Mean?

The statistics listed above are more than just numbers. They are facts that everyone who uses the road should think about, consider and truly take to heart. These statistics indicate that every year, not only do people die and suffer serious injuries but that they do so because of the preventable actions of negligent drivers. We also know that more lives are saved when helmets are used and seatbelts are worn.

The takeaway for drivers in New York should be:

  • Always buckle up and make sure everyone in your vehicle is properly restrained.
  • Never drive after consuming any amount of alcohol.
  • Don’t rush. Instead, take your time getting to your destination and never drive too fast for conditions.
  • Stop driving aggressively – even when traffic is frustrating.
  • Put down your cell phone when you driver and minimize all other distractions.
  • Watch where you are walking or biking. Just because you are paying attention does not mean that the driver of a vehicle is paying attention to you. Make yourself visible to drivers.
  • If you are biking or riding a motorcycle, always wear a helmet.

Get Help from an Experience New York Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Albany, Syracuse or elsewhere in New York, or if you have lost a loved one in a crash, make sure to get help from an experienced and compassionate New York car accident lawyer. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP, today. We can provide a free, immediate consultation about your case.

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