Roadway deaths in the United States declined in both 2017 and 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. The decline is accredited to the new safety and driver assistance technologies being implemented in cars.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Vehicle crashes killed 36,560 people on U.S. roadways last year, a 2.4% decline from 2017, according to data released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Things like lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and vehicle detection have become significant game-changers on the roadways. These technologies have taken away some of the guesswork of driving and serve to keep even the most inattentive drivers alert. The drop, however, comes after several consecutive years of rising road deaths, which peaked in 2016 at an estimated 40,200 deaths.
WSJ reported other important numbers to keep in mind:
The agency also highlighted progress in other areas. Alcohol-related driving fatalities fell by 3.6% last year over 2017, while speeding related deaths declined 5.7%, the NHTSA data shows.
The number of motorcyclists killed in crashes dropped by 4.7%. There was a 10.3% reduction in the deaths of children aged 14 and younger.
Overall, the rate of people killed per every 100 million miles traveled dropped to 1.13, its lowest level since 2014.
However, the news isn’t great for pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, which are on the rise. 6,283 pedestrians were killed in 2018; a 3.4 percent increase from the previous year. It’s also the highest that number has been since 1990. Cyclist fatalities have increased by 6.3 percent.
It seems there is still a lot of work to be done to protect everyone on the road. After all, more people than ever are choosing to walk or bike during their morning commutes. The increase in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities could also potentially be attributed to the increasing popularity of SUVs and CUVs, which pack a larger punch when crashing into unprotected people.
Cities also play a role in reducing pedestrian deaths. Vision Zero in New York, which aimed to have 0 pedestrian deaths in the city, didn’t quite achieve its goal in 2018, but still got pedestrian deaths down to 200—the lowest its been in over 100 years—by lowering speed limits and enforcing pedestrian yield laws.
NHTSA has pledged pedestrian and cyclist safety will be next up on its list of issues to tackle. There’s the possibility that NHTSA will include pedestrian and cyclist safety measures in its crash-test program, but the exact parameters of what that will include have not yet been defined. NHTSA foresees a further reduction in vehicle-related deaths as the 2019 totals are calculated.