We’ve all heard the number repeatedly—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that human error is a contributing factor in 94% of U.S. crashes. The landmark National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, conducted from 2005 to 2007, collected on-scene information about the events and associated factors leading up to crashes involving light vehicles. The critical reason, which is the last event in the crash causal chain, was assigned to the driver in 94% of the crashes. Among the drivers who were assigned critical reasons, recognition errors accounted for about 41%, decision errors 33%, and performance errors 11% of the crashes.
The result is tragic, with 37,133 people losing their lives in U.S. motor vehicle crashes in 2017. With these numbers as a backdrop, in October NHTSA announced that 2017 U.S. highway fatality numbers were down following two consecutive years of large increases, and preliminary estimates for the first 6 months of 2018 appear to show that this downward trend continues.