This is the second consecutive year the NHTSA data has shown a reduction in crash fatalities. The data, compiled by NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), shows that highway fatalities decreased in 2018 with 913 fewer fatalities, down to 36,560 people from 37,473 people in 2017. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also decreased by 3.4% (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014.
Other findings from the 2018 FARS data include: fatalities among children (14 and younger) declined 10.3%; alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities declined 3.6%; speeding-related fatalities declined 5.7%; and motorcyclist fatalities declined 4.7%.
“New vehicles are safer than older ones and when crashes occur, more new vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies that prevent or reduce the severity of crashes,” NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens said in a statement. “NHTSA has spent recent years partnering with state and local governments and safety advocates to urge the public to never drive impaired or distracted, to avoid excessive speed, and to always buckle up.”
In addition to the 2018 numbers, NHTSA also released initial estimates for the first half of 2019, which suggest that this overall positive trend may be continuing. The estimated number of fatalities in the first half of 2019 declined by 3.4% from the same period in 2018, with 589 fewer fatalities over that time. That translates to an estimated first-half 2019 fatality rate of 1.06, the lowest first-half level since 2015. The estimates for the second quarter of 2019 represent the seventh-consecutive year-over-year quarterly decline in fatalities, starting in the last quarter of 2017.