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Preliminary Estimates Show Drop In Traffic Fatalities in 2019

May 11, 2020

Even though the number of total vehicles miles traveled (VMT) rose by .9% in 2019, early forecasts indicate the number of traffic fatalities is down 1.2% year over year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its preliminary annual data that analyzes highways crashes.

James Owen, the organization's deputy administrator, lauded the NHTSA's initiatives, saying, "Providing effective behavioral safety programs is one of NHTSA’s top safety missions. And we know that without the unyielding efforts from our determined and passionate safety partners at the state and local levels, we could never achieve the projected drop in traffic-related fatalities that have been announced."

Statistical projections shows 36,120 people perished in traffic accidents in 2019, down from 36,560 in 2018. This places the 2019 fatality rate at 1.10 deaths per 110 VMT in 2019, down from 1.13 the previous year. 

This is the third consecutive year the fatality rate has fallen. If the projected data matches the final numbers, the NHTSA says this would be the second-lowest fatality rate per 100 million VMT on record.

Although the overall rate is expected to decrease, the NHTSA indicates that crash fatalities involving at least one large truck increased by 1% year over year. A large truck by definition has a gross vehicle weight greater than 10,000 lbs. The organization does not differentiate between private- or corporate-owned trucks.

The NHTSA states, "the fatality counts for 2018 and 2019 and the ensuing percentage change from 2018 to 2019 will be further revised as the final file for 2018 and the annual reporting file for 2019 become available later this year. These estimates may be further refined when the projections for the first quarter of 2020 are released in late spring of 2020."

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