Most news out of the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) tends to focus on increasing fatality or injury rates. However, the organization recently announced some good news worth noting – preliminary estimates of highway-related fatalities for 2019 continues a downward trend seen in 2017 and 2018.

The statistics include:

  • Driver deaths were down 3%
  • Passenger deaths were down 4%
  • Motorcycle deaths were down 1%
  • Pedestrian deaths were down 2% (after several years of increases)
  • Pedalcyclists deaths were down 3%

Digging down into those numbers

The NHTSA estimates that 36,120 people died in motor vehicle crashes. This is down 1.2% from 2018 when the total was 36,560 fatalities. This reduction occurred despite a 1% increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). There were 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT, which is down from 1.13 deaths in 2018. The 2019 fatality rate per 100 million VMT is the second-lowest since the NHTSA began compiling that figure.

Why is this happening?

Experts at the NHTSA cite increased awareness of safety and other steps taken at local, state and federal organizations to make the roads safer. The NHTSA also issued $562 million in grants to all 50 states to continue this downward trend. This money will go to the usual safety campaigns, enforcement of safety laws and other important traffic safety initiatives. California received $50.1 million, which was the most of any state.

Not all good news

Crashes involving semi-trucks are often severe, if not fatal. The data involving trucks and buses rated over 10,000 lbs. is projected to go up by 1%. The usual reason of human error is the cause for the increase.

Roughly 10% of all traffic-related fatalities in the country occurred in California, with 3,540 deaths in 2019. This is a sobering reminder that it especially important to have safe driving habits here. Nonetheless, this will not always be enough to prevent severe injury or death. Victims involved in these cataclysmic events may need to speak to a personal injury attorney about the crash details. These legal professionals can help determine if the victims can seek damages from the negligent driver.