NHTSA: Traffic deaths drop for second year in a row

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Washington — The number of fatalities on the nation’s roadways declined in 2018 for the second straight year, and the trend is on pace to continue in 2019, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Last year, 36,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes – 913 fewer than in 2017, for a 2.4% drop. Additionally, the fatality rate of 1.13 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled marks a 3.4% decrease from 1.17 the year before and is the lowest since 2014.

Other findings:

  • Fatalities among children 14 and younger dropped 10.3%.
  • Speeding-related fatalities declined 5.7%.
  • Motorcyclist fatalities decreased 4.7%.
  • Fatalities involving alcohol impairment fell 3.6%.
  • Fatalities among pedestrians and pedalcyclists increased 3.4% (to 6,283) and 6.3% (to 857), respectively.

Initial estimates for the first half of this year show 589 fewer roadway fatalities compared with the same period in 2018 – a 3.4% decline. That translates to an estimated fatality rate of 1.06 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled – the lowest first-half level since 2015.

“This is encouraging news, but still far too many perished or were injured, and nearly all crashes are preventable,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in an Oct. 22 press release. “So much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone.”

The National Safety Council echoed Chao’s comments in a statement released Oct. 22.

“It is encouraging to see the uptick in deaths ebbing, possibly signaling an end to one of the worst increases since the 1950s,” the statement reads. “However, on a typical day, we still lose 100 people on our roadways, and the data is especially troublesome when looking at increasing fatalities for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

To help save more lives, NSC recommends “embracing proven countermeasures such as enforcing speed limits and seat belt laws, as well as advancing technology and improving our infrastructure.”

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