The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency in the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), recently released preliminary results indicating a continued decline in traffic deaths based on the 2019 highway crash data compiled by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) (Early Estimates of 2019 Motor Vehicle Traffic Data Show Reduced Fatalities for Third Consecutive Year). If the results are confirmed, it will be the third year in a row U.S. traffic fatalities have declined.
“Safety is our top priority so this report that traffic fatalities appear to have decreased again for the third year is great news,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said.
Fatalities from traffic accidents decreased in the following categories:
- Drivers (3%)
- Passengers (4%)
- Motorcyclists (1%)
- Pedestrians (2%)
- Pedalcyclists (3%)
An estimated 36,120 people died in motor vehicle traffic accidents in 2019, a decrease of approximately 1.2% from the fatalities reported in 2018, despite the fact that Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) increased 0.9%. Consequently, the fatality rate decreased from 1.13 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2018 to 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2019, the second lowest rate since NHTSA began recording fatal accident data.
Ninety percent of NHTSA regions are expected to show decreases in 2019 traffic deaths. “Providing effective behavioral safety programs is one of NHTSA’s top safety missions,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens said. “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 today.”
The NHTSA has continued its efforts to reduce traffic fatalities, including issuing $562 million in grants for highway safety programs to combat risky driving behaviors in all 50 states. In addition, in 2019 the department created a working group focused on reducing truck and bus crashes.
Despite the overall decrease in traffic fatalities, deaths in crashes involving at least one large truck are estimated to increase in 2019. It is imperative that the NHTSA continue to pressure the trucking industry to emphasize safety over profits.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a traffic accident, please contact Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution of your case.