Highway crash fatalities have decreased for the second year in a row, according to a new report from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The 2.4% decline in overall traffic deaths, compiled from 2018 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, comes following the NTSB's focus on safety under the leadership of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
“This is encouraging news, but still far too many perished or were injured, and nearly all crashes are preventable, so much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone,” U.S. Chao said in a media statement.
According to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, fatalities dropped in 2018 to 36,560 people from 37,473 in 2017.
The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also decreased by 3.4% (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014.
NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens credits the decline to public outreach campaigns and enhanced safety technology features in newer model vehicles.
“New vehicles are safer than older ones and when crashes occur, more new vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies that prevent or reduce the severity of crashes,” he said. “NHTSA has spent recent years partnering with state and local governments and safety advocates to urge the public to never drive impaired or distracted, to avoid excessive speed, and to always buckle up.”
In addition, fatalities among children (14 and younger) declined 10.3% along with alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities falling 3.6%. Speed-related deaths decreased 5.7% and motorcycle fatalities dropped 4.7%.
Initial data from the first half of 2019 show the overall positive trend continuing. NHTSA's estimated number of fatalities for the first half of 2019 show a 3.4% decrease compared to the same period in 2018, the lowest first-half numbers since 2015.