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Traffic deaths down for 3rd straight year, preliminary data shows

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Washington — Motor vehicle-related traffic fatalities were down 1.2% in 2019 despite a 0.9% rise in vehicle miles traveled, according to preliminary data released in May by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The estimated 36,120 deaths are 440 fewer than the 2018 total of 36,560 – the third consecutive year with a reduction. Further, compared with 2018, fatalities were down across several categories, including passengers (4%), drivers (3%) and pedalcyclists (3%).

“While we are heading in the right direction, more work needs to be done to ensure safety on our roadways,” a May 6 statement from the National Safety Council reads. “This includes doubling down on proven, evidence-based actions known to save lives, such as seat belt use and not driving impaired, and advancing lifesaving technology in vehicles, such as automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning. We must also prioritize and further develop a positive safety culture through awareness, education and constant reinforcement.”

In its May 2020 Traffic Safety Facts report, NHTSA says it is “too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our roadways.”

NHTSA’s data for the 2019 estimates comes from its Fatality Analysis Reporting System, FastFARS and monthly fatality counts, as well as the Federal Highway Administration’s vehicle miles traveled estimates.

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