Three Makes a Trend: Traffic Deaths Down Again
What this spring needed was more talk of sudden death. So here you go.
According to preliminary estimates released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fewer people died in highway crashes in 2019 — pushing the nation’s death rate down even further from a modern-era high point reached in 2016.
While data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) does seem to indicate a third straight year of decline, we’re still a ways off from numbers reached just a handful of years ago.
The predicted drop is 1.2 percent, following 2018’s 2.3-percent drop and 2017’s 0.9-percent drop. In total, the NHTSA predicts 36,120 roadway fatalities last year, with deaths down across the board — among drivers, passengers (though just barely), pedestrians, and cyclists. Those latter two categories saw their unfortunate membership decline 2 and 3 percent, respectively.
A move in the right direction, for sure, but a far cry from the U.S. being able to boast of the safest streets in the land. In the mid-2010s, as sales, miles driven, and the economy soared to new post-recession heights, traffic fatalities took a sharp turn upwards, rising 8.4 and 6.5 percent, respectively, in 2015 and 2016.
Last year’s predicted tally is still significantly above the 32,429 fatalities seen in 2011. However, these stats can be viewed through different lenses. With a fatality rate of 1.1 per 100 million miles traveled, 2019 appears to tie 2011 and 2013 for the lowest rate seen since before the recession (that being the non-virus-related Great Recession, of course).
Given the vastly fewer miles driven by Americans these past couple of months, coupled with widespread stay-at-home orders, 2020 is shaping up to be an interesting year, data-wise. That said, a number of states, among them Massachusetts and Minnesota, have reported a spike in speeding and collisions during their lockdowns.
As we saw with recent Cannonball Run record attempts, wide-open lanes can lead to a thirst for speed among some of our more adventurous drivers.
Were these reductions seen countrywide, you ask? Nope, though only one NHTSA reporting region out of 10 saw an increase in traffic fatalities. That region was the Southeast, comprising Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Caroline, and Alabama. There, fatalities rose 2 percent. The area with the greatest decrease was New England (a region that does not include Connecticut, in the agency’s study). That area saw deaths sink 8 percent. The very central U.S., comprising Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, held steady with no apparent increase or decrease.
Keep in mind that this data is still preliminary. The agency will come out with a final report later this year.
More by Steph Willems
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Kwik_Shift "RAM"...is that a request?
- Akear Why is Alan Mulally on many business pundits best CEO of all time lists. Read about what Harry Stonecipher and the GE crowd did to Boeing. It will make your blood boil
- ToolGuy Torque to Pork Ratio™ (torquelages/curb weight) ain't looking amazing.
- FreedMike I had no idea the 500X was even being sold here anymore.
- FreedMike The company logo needs to be bigger on the tailgate - it can't be deciphered easily from Pluto.