September 21, 2020
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A preliminary estimate of 2018 traffic fatalities released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that while motor vehicle crash deaths declined roughly 1 percent year-over-year, pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities are projected to increase 4 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

[Above photo by Oklahoma National Guard 1st Lt. Chris Hales.]

The agency emphasized, however, that traffic fatality counts for 2017 and 2018 – as well as year-over-year fatality percentage changes from 2017 to 2018 – will be further revised as work is wrapped up on its “annual reporting file” later in the year.

Photo by the Department of Defense

NHTSA noted in its preliminary analysis that an estimated 36,750 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018, a slight 1 percent decrease compared to the 37,133 fatalities reported in 2017.

When overlaid with preliminary vehicle miles travelled or VMT data collected by the Federal Highway Administration, which indicated a 0.4-percent VMT increase of about 12.2 billion miles in 2018, NHTSA said the motor vehicle fatality rate dropped to 1.14 fatalities per 100 million VMT, down from 1.16 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2017.

The agency added that its preliminary research indicates slight decreases occurred in driver, passenger, and motorcyclist deaths, while older drivers aged 65 and over witnessed a slight increase year-over-year increase in crash deaths. NHTSA also pointed out that fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck increased 3 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.

editor@aashto.org

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