By on June 18, 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its preliminary report on how many people died on U.S. roadways in 2018, indicating that overall traffic deaths had likely fallen by 1 percent. While the information doesn’t exactly justify a party, it’s good news after the last few years attempted to provide new footage for the Red Asphalt series.

As the first major spike in traffic deaths since the “Swinging Sixties,” 2015 freaked everyone out a bit. Save for a few annual hiccups, American traffic deaths (contrasted with its population) had been on the decline for decades. However, by the end of 2016, things looked certain — it was becoming less safe to drive in the United States. 

Of course, that’s all relative to how safe we were before. In truth, those driving in 2016 were statistically less likely to die than than anybody traveling prior to 2009. But many worried that the sudden influx of traffic fatalities were part of a new trend, spurred largely by distracted driving, that would send us hurtling back toward the pre-seatbelt era in terms of crash survivability.

While 2017 gave us a minor reprieve from the previous year’s body count, declining by 2 percent, the risks endured on the road improved by an almost negligible margin. It was better, but only just. The NHTSA claimed that 2018 should offer more of the same.

“A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for 2018 shows that an estimated 36,750 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes,” the agency said. “This represents a slight decrease of about 1.0 percent as compared to the 37,133 fatalities that were reported to have occurred in 2017.”

Despite the total number of deaths appearing to have stabilized, the NHTSA expressed concerns for pedestrian and cyclist safety. The agency is projecting a 4-percent rise in pedestrian fatalities and a 10-percent increase bicycle-related deaths for 2018.

That’s likely the result of more people having moved into urban areas. According to Automotive News, pedestrian deaths accounted for 16 percent of all U.S traffic deaths in 2017, up from 12 percent in 2009. Following the broader trend of urbanization shows that this was similarly true for motor-vehicle crashes, which have proliferated inside of cities while gradually declining in more rural parts of the country. Deaths of people inside vehicles, which reached an all-time high of 80 percent of all traffic deaths in 1996, fell to 67 percent in 2017. However it should be noted that the 33-percent remainder includes pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Check out the NHTSA’s preliminary study for yourself here.

[Image: Photo Spirit/Shutterstock]

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10 Comments on “NHTSA Estimates Minor Improvement in Roadway Fatalities for 2018...”

  • avatar

    I treat every trip out as if I were entering the Roman Colosseum.

    At the first hint of traffic congestion everyone becomes an interloper….nameless, faceless but my mortal enemy nonetheless.

    • 0 avatar

      Not so much the Roman Colosseum, filled with deadly gladiators and wild animals, more like the Roman Colosseum in which about half the people in the arena are wandering about aimlessly, oblivious to their surroundings and acting randomly with no semblance of logic, rational behavior, thinking more than two seconds into the future, or even following conventional rules of the road. Walking along the concourse of any busy airport is much the same experience, only on foot instead of on wheels.

  • avatar

    If you kill a cyclist in Florida then the usual penalty is a ticket for “failing to maintain your lane.” So I don’t think that statistic will improve until the legislature or the highway patrol take it a little more seriously than that.

    • 0 avatar

      We have cyclist here that ride on 55 mph roads with zero shoulder and tons of blind road portions, meanwhile we also have a multi million dollar greenway with miles upon miles of asphalt that connect large swaths of suburbs. You can’t legislate out stupid.

      • 0 avatar

        Cyclists, most of them, are out on road to make a point. For that they need cars around them to be able to annoy drivers. That is how it work in CA – they are on a mission to convert the rest of population by sacrificing their lives like early Christians in ancient Rome.

  • avatar

    I’m in Alexandria VA, a Washington suburb. The liberal politicians are changing the town to the “Complete Streets” concept. They make the driving lanes narrower by adding bike lanes and on some streets allow parking where the street is too narrow, making it impossible to keep a car within the lane markings. They tell us it encourages the use of transit instead of cars so they’re caring for the environment. Well, it also makes it dangerous for bicyclists and motorists trying to get into and out of parked cars. They’re willfully making it dangerous here.

  • avatar

    I feel incredibly safe driving today.
    Of course I grew up in the 50s when motoring was actually somewhat dangerous.
    80 mph highway speeds on bias ply tires, drum brakes, and no seat belts.

  • avatar

    So, now that they see, all these idiotic nannies don’t do anything, they can start removing them

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