Highway Safety

Construction on Bridge

The number and rate of traffic fatalities and serious injuries are critical performance measures in the evaluation of the safety of our roadway network. For the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one life lost on our roadways or altered by a serious injury is unacceptable.

  • 5-year rolling average number of fatalities
  • 5-year rolling average rate of fatalities
  • 5-year rolling average number of serious injuries
  • 5-year rolling average rate of serious injuries
  • 5-year rolling average number of fatal and serious injuries for non-motorists

The federally-required measures represent the average of the previous five years of data for each measure. In addition to the rolling averages, MassDOT sets targets for a yearly version of each of the above measures, except the number of fatal and serious injuries for non-motorists. The yearly measures provide the number or rate for the most recent year for which data is available. Tracker also includes the number of fatalities in roadway work zones and motorcycle fatalities, which are focus areas of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Fatalities and Serious Injuries

Fatality and serious injury rates for vehicles are calculated per 100 million VMT to account for how the change in number of these measures is partially a factor of an increase or decrease in the aggregate number of miles being driven during that time frame. Fatality data is measured in three ways: the total number of fatalities; the fatality rate (per 100 million VMT); and the number of non-motorist fatalities. Fatality data is on a two-year delay, so Tracker 2022 reflects data collected during CY20.

The total number of annual fatalities was higher in CY20 than CY19 (an increase of 7 fatalities), while the five-year rolling average has remained steady between 2019 and 2020.

The rate of annual fatalities increased by 0.12 deaths per 100 million VMT from CY19 to CY20, and the 5-year rolling average rate increased from CY19 to in CY20.

Fatalities in work zones dropped from 7 in CY19 to 2 in CY20. The rolling 5-year average has ticked downwards after a previous upward trend, decreasing to 4.4 work zone fatalities per year over the 5-year average ending in CY20. MassDOT continues to identify opportunities to improve work zone safety elements with the goal of having zero deaths in work zones.

In CY20, motorcycle fatalities increased by 13 over CY19. The five-year rolling average shows an increasing trend.

In CY20, 2,371 serious injuries were reported, a significant decrease from CY19. The 5-year rolling average continued to decrease.

The serious injury rate increased in CY20 by about 5 percent, while the 5-year rolling average continued to decrease.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Fatalities and Serious Injuries

In 2021, MassDOT updated its 2019 Statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan and Statewide Pedestrian Plan, which provide roadmaps for making biking and walking safe, convenient, and comfortable for short trips and everyday travel. Safety is critical to improving the experiences of people who walk and bike, and the statewide plans focus on improving safety through infrastructure, maintenance, education, and capacity-building for municipalities. The plans are actionable and measurable, and each plan strategy has metrics associated with it. In the coming years, Tracker will include additional detail on the bicyclist and pedestrian crashes. Efforts are underway to improve data collection and data quality for bicyclist and pedestrian modes, and Tracker will incorporate additional safety related performance measures in the future.

Overall, there has been a downward trend in the 5-year rolling average for combined non-motorist serious injuries and fatalities between CY19 (508 injuries and fatalities) and CY20 (484 injuries and fatalities).

Bicyclist fatalities doubled from CY19 to CY20 (from 5 to 10). However, the 5-year rolling average shows a downward trend.

Pedestrian fatalities fell by 23 from CY19 to CY20. The 5-year rolling average shows a downward trend.