Improving road safety has long been a point of emphasis for the United States government.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now seen positive results for a second consecutive year. Highway deaths fell by 2.4% in 2018. This trend has continued into 2019 with early reports showing that highway deaths are down 3.4% through the first half of the year.
This is the first time since 2014 that the NHTSA has reported improvement in back-to-back years. The total fatality count in 2018 was 36,560, which is a small improvement from 2017 when the NHTSA reported 37,133 deaths.
This two-year period of decline follows two straight years of substantial increases in 2015 and 2016.
What has led to this improvement?
The NHTSA has credited this improvement to a decline in deaths in multiple essential areas. Alcohol-impaired deaths dropped by 3.6% in 2018. Fatalities related to speeding also fell by 5.7%. Finally, motorcycle deaths saw a decline of 4.7%.
The decline in these figures has paved the way for an overall improvement in road safety over the past two years.
Still work to be done
It is undoubtedly a positive sign that road deaths have declined over the past two years. That said, there are still plenty of areas that can be improved upon to lower death totals even further.
“This is encouraging news, but still far too many perished or were injured,” Transportation Secretary Elain Chao said in a statement. “Nearly all crashes are preventable, so much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone.”
Death totals increased in multiple specific areas as well. Pedestrian deaths rose by 3.4%. Additionally, people killed while riding bicycles and other pedaled vehicles saw an increase of 6.3%. There was also a small uptick in the number of people killed in large-truck accidents of under 1%.
The NHTSA is still working on multiple ways to continue this overall positive trend. In its statement, the NHTSA said it is studying changes in its five-star crash assessment program and will consider new technology related to pedestrian and bicyclist safety.