Nearly 33,000 Americans died on U.S. roadways last year, a figure that has gradually declined in recent years.

In certain states, however, fatality tallies are headed in the opposite direction. Updated data for 2014 published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week provides a detailed portrait of the prevalence of various types of fatal crashes and where they’re occurring. 

Over the year, Vermont (-36 percent) and New Hampshire (-30 percent) experienced the largest declines in traffic fatalities. Meanwhile, Wyoming recorded 150 fatalities in 2014 after the number of lives lost there had plummeted to just 87 the prior year. New Mexico's 383 traffic fatalities similarly marked the deadliest year for the state since 2007.

Many factors can push a state’s traffic deaths up or down in a given year. One often-cited factor is the economy since roads are more filled with people commuting to and from work or traveling for pleasure in good economic times. Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, points out that drops in the unemployment rate generally coincide with increases in traffic fatality rates.

State laws, too, play a role in preventing traffic deaths. Primary seatbelt laws, which enable law enforcement officers to ticket drivers absent any other infractions, promote seatbelt usage. The role of seatbelts in saving lives is well documented: Those not wearing seatbelts accounting for nearly half (49 percent) of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in 2014. “It’s those riskier drivers who aren’t buckling up where even small changes in seatbelt use can have a big effect on fatalities,” McCartt said.

Helmet laws have further been shown to be effective in curbing motorcyclist fatalities. A number of states also raised maximum speed limits in recent years, and NHTSA reports that speeding is a factor in one in four traffic deaths.

The weather in a state can also influence traffic deaths over the course of a year. Heavy snowfall may lead to more accidents, but fewer fatalities actually occur usually with not as many vehicles on roadways and motorists tending to drive slower, McCartt said. Warmer weather, on the other hand, tends to encourage more walking, biking and other modes of travel. 

Last year, national traffic fatality totals remained nearly unchanged from 2013.

Early estimates for 2015 suggest traffic fatalities have ticked back up. NHTSA projects that 16,225 people were killed in the first half of this year, an 8.1 percent jump from 2014 that’s higher than any national tally over the first six months since 2009. In a news release, NHTSA cited job growth and lower fuel prices as two potential drivers of increased traffic deaths.

For a look at 2014 traffic deaths in each state, we’ve compiled data from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. State-level totals frequently fluctuate over one-year periods; it's necessary to review multiple years of data to detect longer-term trends. 

Pedestrian Fatalities

Across states, it was a particularly deadly year for pedestrians in Alabama. Ninety-six pedestrians died (up from 59 in 2013), the highest tally since at least 1994. Alaska (14 fatalities), New Mexico (74 fatalities) and Washington (75 fatalities) also experienced recent annual highs that increased more than 50 percent over the prior year.

Nineteen states recorded year-over-year declines, but most don’t appear to be indicative of any longer-term trends. One state that experienced marked improvement last year is Minnesota, where pedestrian fatalities fell by more than half.

State 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
North Dakota 9 1 7 9 7 4 6
Alaska 14 6 8 9 6 9 3
Alabama 96 59 77 79 61 64 68
Washington 75 49 71 64 61 59 63
New Mexico 74 49 61 39 33 39 39
Connecticut 47 36 43 26 46 26 47
New Jersey 168 129 156 142 139 158 135
Colorado 63 50 76 45 36 47 43
Wyoming 5 4 6 6 3 2 7
Wisconsin 45 37 45 57 52 38 53
Oregon 57 48 55 46 56 35 51
Florida 588 501 477 490 486 467 490
Virginia 88 75 97 73 73 74 75
Utah 32 28 28 30 28 19 32
Pennsylvania 161 147 163 147 145 134 137
Louisiana 105 97 119 90 77 108 107
Nevada 70 65 55 46 36 35 56
Tennessee 86 80 67 80 87 71 60
South Carolina 107 100 123 113 90 89 101
Hawaii 24 23 26 23 26 16 20
Kentucky 57 55 49 50 61 41 66
 United States 4884 4735 4818 4457 4302 4109 4414
Massachusetts 70 68 82 69 68 46 76
Indiana 78 77 59 62 62 50 54
Ohio 86 85 113 104 93 85 99
Delaware 25 25 27 18 22 15 21
District of Columbia 9 9 7 8 13 14 9
Michigan 148 148 130 138 128 118 114
Mississippi 53 53 48 47 50 58 50
New Hampshire 12 12 8 5 9 8 7
Rhode Island 14 14 5 14 9 16 12
South Dakota 9 9 2 7 9 4 10
Vermont 5 5 10 3 4 5 1
California 697 701 653 633 601 567 620
North Carolina 172 173 200 161 169 146 160
Texas 476 480 482 425 349 350 435
Illinois 123 125 138 134 115 112 135
Iowa 19 20 20 25 18 21 17
Maryland 101 108 97 102 102 114 116
Arizona 141 151 122 147 145 118 121
Idaho 13 14 13 9 10 10 11
Georgia 163 176 167 130 168 152 147
Kansas 23 25 26 14 15 22 19
Missouri 65 73 84 75 55 68 63
Oklahoma 50 58 65 43 62 32 50
Maine 9 11 9 10 12 11 12
Arkansas 36 45 47 42 38 37 45
New York 263 335 303 287 303 308 297
Nebraska 9 12 15 7 8 9 5
West Virginia 19 28 31 20 13 21 13
Minnesota 15 32 38 39 35 42 25
Montana 10 24 8 15 8 15 11

SOURCE: NHTSA FARS data Nationally, pedestrian deaths now account for 15 percent of all traffic deaths. 

Motorcyclist Fatalities

The number of motorcyclists killed declined for the third straight year in 2014. But the 4,586 fatalities still represent a significant increase from the 1990s, when there were fewer than 2,500 deaths annually.

In California, motorcyclist fatalities have increased each of the past five years to 519 deaths in 2014. States recording notably fewer deaths last year include Oklahoma, where fatalities declined from 92 in 2013 to 57, and Minnesota, which recorded about a quarter fewer fatalities.

As a share of all traffic fatalities, motorcyclist deaths were most common in Hawaii (26 percent), Connecticut (22 percent) and Nevada (22 percent).

NHTSA noted that motorcyclist fatalities are far higher in states without strong helmet laws. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia require all motorcyclists to wear helmets, while most other states maintain laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear them. Warmer weather also likely plays a role as people spend more time riding bikes.

Bicyclist Fatalities

State 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
Alabama 65 80 97 98 86 76 100
Alaska 8 9 9 10 9 7 8
Arizona 130 151 141 136 91 121 141
Arkansas 61 61 72 64 84 71 68
California 519 453 447 415 352 394 560
Colorado 94 87 79 78 82 88 98
Connecticut 55 53 48 37 52 45 63
Delaware 15 20 17 19 8 14 16
D.C. 3 3 4 4 1 4 8
Florida 478 485 492 464 396 413 556
Georgia 137 116 134 150 128 140 178
Hawaii 25 29 40 32 26 35 25
Idaho 25 25 22 17 28 34 29
Illinois 118 152 148 145 131 130 135
Indiana 124 114 152 118 111 111 131
Iowa 52 41 59 36 60 49 55
Kansas 48 35 48 45 40 47 46
Kentucky 86 87 106 71 96 86 101
Louisiana 83 86 78 80 74 103 81
Maine 11 14 24 15 19 24 18
Maryland 69 62 78 76 82 69 91
Massachusetts 43 40 56 40 61 55 42
Michigan 112 138 138 118 137 109 128
Minnesota 46 61 55 42 48 52 71
Mississippi 41 39 39 58 42 47 40
Missouri 91 74 104 82 95 87 107
Montana 23 35 30 20 25 26 36
Nebraska 20 14 22 23 14 15 19
Nevada 63 57 43 41 48 42 59
New Hampshire 17 24 29 14 28 21 30
New Jersey 62 56 77 93 70 65 82
New Mexico 46 41 64 47 41 40 49
New York 148 170 170 170 184 155 184
North Carolina 190 189 198 170 191 154 169
North Dakota 10 9 16 14 15 7 13
Ohio 136 132 162 165 170 166 213
Oklahoma 57 92 84 98 78 108 89
Oregon 46 34 51 40 38 53 48
Pennsylvania 185 182 210 199 223 204 239
Rhode Island 10 11 8 15 15 19 7
South Carolina 121 149 146 129 101 108 123
South Dakota 17 22 25 14 27 16 15
Tennessee 120 137 139 115 137 122 146
Texas 450 491 454 478 420 429 524
Utah 45 31 32 28 21 30 36
Vermont 7 7 11 8 6 8 7
Virginia 90 79 85 96 86 77 86
Washington 69 73 83 72 70 70 81
West Virginia 26 24 31 27 33 26 52
Wisconsin 73 85 117 88 105 84 89
Wyoming 16 9 12 16 33 13 20

Motorcycle totals include mopeds, off-road motorcycles and other motorized bikes.
SOURCE: NHTSA FARS data
In 2014, cyclist fatalities dipped 2.3 percent after climbing each of the previous three years.

Nineteen cyclists were killed on Pennsylvania roadways, up from 11 in 2013 and 16 in 2012. States with significantly fewer cyclist fatalities last year from prior totals include Ohio and Oklahoma. Florida recorded 139 fatalities -- the highest nationally -- and far more than New York (46) and Texas (50).

While cyclists make up a very small share of all commuters, their numbers have grown across urban centers. Efforts around cyclist and pedestrian safety have gained traction in cities, some of which have launched "Vision Zero" and other initiatives to improve safety.

Total Traffic Fatalities

State 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
Rhode Island 0 3 2 0 2 0 1
Vermont 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
D.C. 1 1 0 1 2 0 1
Idaho 2 3 2 0 4 7 2
Maine 2 4 1 0 1 0 4
Montana 2 1 1 1 0 1 3
Nebraska 2 0 0 2 2 3 0
South Dakota 2 0 0 1 2 0 0
West Virginia 2 0 1 0 3 0 2
Alaska 3 1 1 2 0 2 1
Connecticut 3 3 4 8 7 1 6
Delaware 3 1 4 0 3 6 6
New Hampshire 3 4 0 4 0 1 2
North Dakota 3 1 0 1 1 1 1
Hawaii 4 2 2 2 3 3 2
Iowa 4 3 3 5 8 2 5
Kentucky 4 3 6 2 7 5 6
Oklahoma 4 13 5 1 9 11 4
Wisconsin 4 10 11 12 9 7 9
Maryland 5 6 5 5 8 10 6
Minnesota 5 6 7 5 9 10 13
Missouri 5 4 6 1 7 2 3
New Mexico 5 4 7 4 8 3 7
Tennessee 5 8 8 5 4 9 7
Wyoming 5 0 0 1 0 2 1
Mississippi 6 6 4 7 4 10 4
Arkansas 7 4 6 6 2 5 5
Kansas 7 6 7 2 1 5 6
Oregon 7 3 10 15 7 8 10
Washington 7 11 12 11 6 9 9
Massachusetts 8 6 16 5 7 6 10
Nevada 8 7 3 4 6 6 7
Alabama 9 6 9 5 6 6 4
Utah 9 6 3 5 7 5 4
Colorado 10 12 13 8 8 10 12
New Jersey 11 14 14 17 13 13 20
Ohio 11 19 18 16 11 19 18
Indiana 12 14 15 11 13 7 18
Louisiana 12 14 24 18 11 13 11
Virginia 12 8 11 6 12 11 13
South Carolina 14 15 13 15 14 11 14
Georgia 19 28 17 14 18 21 20
North Carolina 19 22 27 25 23 16 32
Pennsylvania 19 11 16 11 21 15 8
Michigan 22 27 19 24 29 19 25
Illinois 27 30 29 27 24 19 27
Arizona 29 31 18 23 19 25 19
New York 46 40 45 57 36 29 42
Texas 50 48 56 45 42 48 53
California 128 141 129 116 100 99 109
Florida 139 133 124 126 83 107 126

SOURCE: NHTSA FARS data Select a state to view its traffic fatality data since 2000:

Please see the full article for this interactive content.