National Speed Fatality Map Highlights Tragic Losses

Elevating safety over speed would save thousands of lives each year

Fatal traffic crashes involving speed in the United States, 2010-2015 (zoom in for details)

Data source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The 10 Cities with the most speed-related fatal crashes

  1. Los Angeles
  2. New York
  3. Houston
  4. Chicago
  5. San Antonio
  6. Dallas
  7. Phoenix
  8. Fort Worth
  9. Detroit
  10. Kansas City

The 59,374 lives lost due to excessive speed were preventable

Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the United States. From 2010 to 2015, 59,374 American lives were lost in crashes related to excessive speed. To reach Vision Zero’s goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries, we must prioritize safety over speed to ensure that every one of us can move about our communities safely.

Traffic crashes are one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S. and globally. In 2015,1.25 million people died around the world in traffic violence. In the U.S. last year, 35,092 people died in traffic crashes, an increase of 7.2% over the prior year. This was the greatest percentage increase in traffic violence in this nation since the 1960s.

To stop these deaths, communities must prioritize speed management in their suite of policy and design efforts to save lives. Many communities are taking action to recalibrate speeds to safer levels, particularly in dense, multi-modal areas.

Vehicle speeding stats
Image: Seattle Department of Transportation

Communities CAN choose safety. Small differences in speed can make a big difference in safety. The chances of a person walking surviving a collision with an automobile decrease sharply as speeds approach and exceed 30 mph. For that reason, cities are pursuing physical, legal, and cultural strategies to reduce maximums to 25 mph or less in areas where people on foot and on bikes frequently share space with cars.

The effective strategies for managing speed fall into three categories:

  1. Designing and retrofitting roadways to calm traffic and encourage safe behavior that prioritizes the preservation of human life. Changing the way streets work isn’t easy, but it’s by far the most effective way to improve safety and the intuitive usability of the street. Political leadership, community support, and design know-how are all essential to reshaping the built environment to be more forgiving, easy to navigate, and safe for all.
  2. Lowering speed limits to levels where the consequence of crashes is less likely to be fatal. The State of Massachusetts & Seattle and other jurisdictions across the country have recently passed resolutions enabling greater local control of speed limits in multi-modal urban environments.
  3. Using equitably implemented automated safety camera technology to discourage dangerous speeds. Washington DC, NYC and Chicago and other cities all have promising records of saving lives with safety cameras, or automated speed enforcement.

For more on speed management and other topics, see the Vision Zero Resource Library or the map announcement.

About the Map

The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) and the Vision Zero Network launched an interactive map that showcases the over 59,000 speeding fatalities that occurred in the United States between 2010 and 2015. The fatalities are mapped to the city and state that each incident occurred. By zooming in and out with your mouse, viewers have the opportunity to look all the way down to the actual street where someone’s life was taken due to an excessive speed-related collision.

The map, which features data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), was designed as a key component of the VisionZero Network’s efforts to highlight the dangers of speeding in conjunction with the International World Day of Remembrance. The annual event recognizes the more than 1.2 million lives lost worldwide in traffic crashes each year.

About Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a framework to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has spread across the world and is gaining momentum in U.S. cities as an ethical responsibility to ensure people have safe options to move about their communities, whether walking, bicycling, driving, or riding transit. Unlike traditional traffic safety approaches, Vision Zero approaches traffic deaths as a public health crisis, and defines traffic violence as a systemic problem that demands a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive approach to solve. Vision Zero strategies emphasize the need for political leadership, intuitive and forgiving infrastructure designs, and data-driven strategies that prioritize effective solutions for stopping fatalities on roadways. More than 20 U.S. cities have adopted formal Vision Zero commitments, with dozens more considering it. The U.S. Vision Zero Network facilitates conversations and research to disseminate best practices in this rapidly evolving field.