NSC: Motor vehicle deaths reach 40,000 for third straight year in 2018

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Itasca, IL — An estimated 40,000 people were killed in motor vehicle-related crashes in 2018 – marking the third straight year the total has reached that number – according to preliminary estimates recently released by the National Safety Council.

The estimate is a 1 percent drop from the previous two years (40,231 in 2017 and 40,327 in 2016) and signals a leveling off of traffic deaths after years of consecutive increases. However, it still is 14 percent higher than four years ago.

Seven states – Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon and Pennsylvania – and the District of Columbia experienced spikes of at least 5.8 percent in 2018.

“Forty-thousand deaths is simply unacceptable,” NSC interim President and CEO Nick Smith said in a Feb. 13 press release. “We cannot afford to tread water any more. We know what works, but need to demonstrate the commitment to implementing the solutions. Roadway deaths are preventable by doubling down on what works, embracing technology advancements and creating a culture of safer driving.”

To help ensure safer roads, NSC urges drivers to:

  • Practice defensive driving. Buckle up; designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation; get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue; and drive attentively, avoiding distractions. 
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from prescription opioids. Visit StopEverydayKillers.org to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis.
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits. Check out DriveitHOME.org for resources.
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. Visit MyCarDoesWhat.org for information.
  • Fix recalls immediately. Use ChecktoProtect.org to find out if your vehicle has an open recall.