Analysis shows little change in traffic death count from 2018 to 2019

Preliminary analysis in 21 states and D.C. suggests Vision Zero and Toward Zero Death programs have not made consistent progress nationwide

January 02, 2020
preliminary traffic fatality counts

The overall number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2019 looks to be essentially unchanged compared with 2018, according to an analysis of preliminary data from 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Transportation planning and engineering firm Sam Schwartz analyzed year-to-date fatality data posted on state DOT and state police websites as of December 31. The preliminary data show the number of fatalities increased in nine states in 2019 compared with 2018 and decreased in 12 states plus the District of Columbia. Overall, an estimated 12,995 preliminary traffic fatalities were reported in 2019 for these states plus D.C. compared with 13,144 in 2018, equating to a one percent decrease.

However, because the 2019 fatality counts are preliminary and are likely to increase when final data are reported, Sam Schwartz projects the overall number of traffic fatalities in 2019 will be essentially unchanged compared with 2018 for 21 states plus D.C.

The data available from these 22 jurisdictions represent approximately 36 percent of nationwide fatality counts. The analysis does not include data from states with the largest numbers of traffic deaths such as Texas, California, Florida, and New York. Thus, while the data provide an early indication of likely trends in the number of U.S. traffic fatalities for 2019, the analysis is not necessarily representative of overall national trends.    

“These 21 states plus D.C. should be commended for providing public access to year-to-date preliminary fatality data, even when the news is not encouraging,” Richard Retting, a traffic safety expert and the National Practice Leader for Safety & Research at Sam Schwartz, said in a statement. “Access to such data for all states would provide a more accurate national picture of traffic fatality trends at year end.”

For 2018 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 36,560 traffic fatalities. Based on this preliminary analysis, it is likely that a similar number of nationwide traffic fatalities will have occurred in 2019. 

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SOURCE: Sam Schwartz 

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