The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week released preliminary estimates for the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) 2019 data on highway crashes showing a continued decline in traffic fatalities.
NHTSA says the nation saw a decline in traffic deaths during 2018 and 2017, and these newest estimates suggest a continuing decline in traffic-related deaths.
Fatalities decreased in most major traffic safety categories: drivers (down 3%), passengers (down 4%), motorcyclists (down 1%), pedestrians (down 2%), and pedal cyclists (down 3%).
A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for 2019 shows that an estimated 36,120 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents an estimated decrease of about 440 (down 1.2%) from the reported 36,560 fatalities in 2018, even though Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) increased by 0.9%. As a result, the fatality rate for 2019 was 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT, down from 1.13 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2018. If these estimates are reflected in the final data, the fatality rate per 100 million VMT would be the second lowest since NHTSA started recording fatal crash data.
“Providing effective behavioral safety programs is one of NHTSA’s top safety missions,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens said in a statement. “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.”
NHTSA has accelerated its efforts to continue the decline of traffic fatalities. In February, NHTSA released $562 million in grants for highway safety programs to the Offices of Highway Safety in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. The grants were issued to help state and local law enforcement agencies enhance their traffic safety efforts to combat risky driving behaviors.