For the second year in a roll, the United States saw a drop in the number of traffic fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported. While the drop in 2018 was small (2.4%), officials believe that most of the drop is due to the safety technology available in newer vehicles.
To them, technology did more for accident prevention than anything else. Thankfully, that translated into fewer deaths and fewer traffic collisions. However, we still have a long way to go.
Last year, a total of 36,560 people died in traffic accidents. When compared to 2017, there was a 2.4% drop in fatalities, a trend that seems to continue into 2019.
Regulators say that early estimates show that fatalities are down 3.4% so far.
They also reported that the number of distracted driving deaths is down 12.4% from 2017.
But despite the “encouraging” news, regulators told reporters, “far too many perished or were injured.” Furthermore, most of the accidents are “preventable,” they added. This means that both officials and drivers have a great deal of work left to ensure serious accidents don’t happen.
But despite the lower number of traffic fatalities, other types of deadly accidents are actually on the rise.
According to regulators, pedestrian deaths rose 3.4%, making 2018 the year with the highest rate of this type of death in 28 years. Since 2009, pedestrian deaths rose about 53%, making this trend particularly concerning.
Additionally, the death rate for bicycle riders in 2018 rose 6.3%. Lastly, the number of people who died in large truck accidents rose by 1%.
But despite the grim numbers involving pedestrians and cyclists, motorcycle deaths fell 4.7%, speeding-related deaths fell 5.7%, and alcohol-impaired fatalities dropped 3.6%.
Regulators believe that while traffic accidents are falling, the rise in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities may be associated with the increase in drivers purchasing SUVs. Because SUVs are taller than passenger cars, drivers may not be seeing pedestrians and cyclists.
Officials are looking into changes to the five-star crash assessment program. They told reporters that they may soon consider adding requirements such as pedestrian detection systems.
Calling this an epidemic of preventable deaths, consumer advocates from Consumer Reports challenged regulators to do more to lower the number of pedestrian deaths. The use of pedestrian detection system would help with that.
If you would like to now more about these numbers and what they mean, follow this link.