Preliminary estimates indicate a leveling off of the recent upward trend in motor vehicle deaths, with the number of fatalities in the first six months of 2018 dipping just slightly – less than 0.5 percent – from six-month 2017 estimates.
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 18,720 people died on U.S. roadways between January and June, compared to 18,770 during the same period last year. An additional 2.1 million people are estimated to have sustained serious crash-related injuries during the first six months of 2018 – a 1 percent drop from 2017 six-month projections.
According to the safety group, the small drop is a sign of stabilization of the steepest two-year increase in over 50 years, which occurred between 2014 and 2016. If the preliminary 2018 estimate holds, the U.S. could see its third straight year with about 40,000 roadway deaths.
But stabilization is not sufficient, the group contends.
“When it comes to this leading cause of accidental death, we aren’t making progress – we’re treading water,” said Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council. “We cannot accept more than 18,700 deaths as the price of mobility. We hope these numbers remind drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive defensively so we can get on the road to zero deaths.”
While the national trend has remained stable, the NSC’s early estimates indicate some states have seen progress. In the first half of this year, several states — including Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and New York — have experienced at least a 10 percent drop in motor vehicle deaths . A sample of states with increases through the first six months include California (3 percent), Florida (7 percent), Oregon (9 percent) and Texas (3 percent).
Unlike the larger increases in motor vehicle deaths that occurred at the height of the economic recovery, cumulative monthly miles driven have increased only 0.3 percent from 2017 through May of this year. That slowdown in the rate of motor vehicle travel has affected the fatality trends through the first six months of 2018.
NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.
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