Motor Vehicle-Related Deaths in Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the U.S. However, despite its large land mass, the state has a much lower population as compared to other states with a total of 710,231 people and ranking 47th among all states.
According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the State of Alaska has an average of 12,440 motor vehicle-related crashes annually. The number of crashes has been showing a steady decline, and while crashes have resulted in property damage and minor injuries, only 3% of crashes in Alaska have resulted in major injuries or death.
However, compared to previous years, Alaska had one of its deadliest years in 2016 in terms of fatal crashes. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that during the first half of the year, traffic deaths are up by 10.4% as compared to the same period in 2015. There were 75 traffic fatalities from 69 fatal collisions as of November 2016. This is an increase of 34% compared to the same period in 2015.
Reasons for Road Accidents
The Department of Transportation (DOT) states that driving behavior was a factor in nearly 75% of fatalities in recent years. The DOT has also had a budget cut of 22% ($60 million) since 2015 which has resulted in reductions in manpower for state road crews and for snow removal. 55 equipment operator positions have been eliminated since 2015. Budget cuts have also had an impact on road maintenance and overtime ability. There have also been increases in crashes that involved drivers without seat belts, distracted driving, speeding and impaired driving. Vehicle-pedestrian crashes are highest in November due to snow and bad light.
Alcohol-impaired fatalities increased to 23 in 2015. DUI arrests have increased to 202 in 2016 as compared to 80 in 2014. Unrestrained passenger vehicle fatalities have decreased in 2015 compared to 2014 and seat belt usage rates have been maintained at 89% in both 2015 and 2016. Speeding fatalities increased in 2015 to 22 compared to 2014, and speeding citations increased to 747 in 2016 as compared to 438 in 2014.
Motorcycle Accident Stats
As of 2015, Alaska has 32,109 registered motorcycles. Motorcycle fatalities increased in 2015 as compared to 2014. There was a total of 11 motorcycle fatalities in 2015 compared to 8 in 2014. Out of these 11 fatalities, 4 of the riders were not wearing helmets. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 17% of all road fatalities in Alaska in 2015. This is the largest number of motorcycle fatalities in Alaska over the last ten years. A total of 1396 motorcycle crashes occurred between 2004 and 2012 (averaging 155 crashes per year). But the numbers declined to 154 crashes in 2011 and 125 crashes in 2012.
As of April 2016, Alaska had a partial law with respect to helmet usage among riders. While universal law covers all riders, Alaska's motorcycle helmet partial law applies to all ages, from passengers under eighteen to those with instructional permits.