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NHTSA: Non-Traffic Crash Injuries and Fatalities a Serious Problem

The term “non-traffic motor vehicle crashes” is one of those clunky ones mostly used by regulators and policy wonks, but it’s one that should capture everyone’s attention because it’s a serious and ongoing, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

If you’ve never heard the term, you’re not alone, though you’ve likely heard of the incidents to which it refers. Non-traffic motor vehicle crashes are a type of crash that occurs off a public traffic way. Those may include:

  • Single vehicle crashes on private roads
  • Two-vehicle crashes in parking lots or parking garages
  • Collisions with pedestrians or bicyclists in driveways

In addition to these, there are also “non-traffic incidents,” which might include things like a person falling underneath a vehicle or someone falling victim to unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Part of the reason most people probably aren’t familiar with the term “non-traffic motor vehicle crashes” is because the NHTSA didn’t keep statistics on these kinds of incidents until quite recently. It wasn’t until after a 2007 order by Congress requiring the agency to start compiling and maintaining this information. In order to comply, the agency established a system of data collection called “Non-Traffic Surveillance” or NTS. This new report is the first of its kind.

In looking at just those cases where there was an actual crash, the agency found that from 2012 to 2014, there were nearly 5,700 people killed in non-traffic crashes over the course of this three-year period.

About one-third of these victims were non-occupants, with nearly half of those suffering fatal injuries when they were struck by a vehicle moving forward. Another 35 percent of this group were killed by a vehicle that was backing up. Of the average 1,898 people killed in these non-traffic accidents every year, about 360 are non-occupants.

Over the course of three years, an estimated 277,000 people were injured in these non-traffic crashes. That’s an average of 92,000 annually. Here again, vehicles backing up or moving forward into pedestrians or bicyclists was a major problem. Also an issue: runaway vehicles. These injured about 2,000 non-occupants a year.

What’s especially concerning is the fact that these types of accidents are apparently increasing.

In 2012, there were reportedly 1,959 people killed and 94,000 injured in these incidents. By 2014,that figure fell slightly to 1,825 deaths and 93,000 injuries.

Because many law enforcement agencies don’t track this figures specifically, the agency had to seek data from numerous sources. Those included:

  • Police accident reports
  • Trauma registries
  • Hospital records
  • Insurance companies
  • Newspaper stories

There have also been a few privately conducted studies on the issue, though those have varied in scope and consistency. One example was the 2012 research published in the journal Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, which looked at trauma-based surveillance of non-traffic pedestrian injuries among children in California. That means they only culled information from hospitals about California cases that involved kids under the age of 14 from 2005 to 2007. During that time, they found 94 children were injured. Nine suffered fatal injuries. Seventy of them were under the age of 4. The vast majority of these collisions happened in residential driveways.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Non-Traffic Surveillance: Fatality and Injury Statistics in Non-Traffic Crashes, 2012 to 2014, August 2016, NHTSA

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