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NHTSA Report – Traffic Fatalities Decreased in 2019

NHTSA Releases 2019 Fatalities Report

On December 18, 2020, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which operates under the U.S. Department of Transportation, released the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data on 2019 traffic fatalities. 

Traffic Fatalities Decreased in 2019

There was good news to report.  Traffic fatalities nationwide decreased during 2019 when compared to 2018.  In 2019, there were 36,096 car crash deaths. That number represents a 2% decrease from 2018, which had 36,835 vehicle deaths.  The reduction in fatalities was despite an increase of 0.8% in vehicle miles traveled.  The 2019 fatality rate was the lowest since 2014.  

Also of significance was the finding that fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving decreased to the lowest on record since 1982 when the agency began reporting on alcohol data. There were 568 fewer alcohol-related vehicle deaths in 2019 compared to 2018.  Deaths were reduced in many other safety categories in comparison to 2018 as well, such as:

  • There were 630 fewer passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.
  • There were 169 fewer pedestrian fatalities.
  • There were 25 fewer pedestrian/cyclist fatalities.
  • There were 813 fewer fatalities in urban areas.

The Reaction by the NHTSA

The Deputy Administrator for the NHTSA noted that they are encouraged by the 2019 FARS data revealing fewer deaths on the nation’s highways and roads than during the prior year.  He indicated that this is the third year of the trend toward decreasing fatalities, despite there being overall economic growth, which is somewhat of an anomaly. There were marked reductions in cyclist and pedestrian fatalities, along with fewer deaths related to crashes involving alcohol.  It is hoped that the trend continues to build with drivers doing their parts by wearing seatbelts, driving sober, avoiding distractions and speeding, and safely sharing the roads with cyclists and pedestrians.  

It is Difficult to Compare 2020 to Other Years

The pandemic brought changes in driving behavior, and specifically an increase in risky behaviors such as speeding and driving while impaired.  On the same day the FARS data was released, the NHTSA also issued a supplementary special report on the first half of 2020.  The report broke down monthly fatalities into several subcategories.  The number of traffic deaths that occurred during the period of April to June 2020 was projected to have decreased, but there were projected increases in fatalities that happened in the following subcategories:

  • Accidents that occurred in rural areas
  • Among younger people (aged 16 to 24 years of age)
  • Accidents involving risky driving behavior
  • Accidents involving ejections and rollovers
  • Among occupants of older vehicles that were more than 10 years old

Watch the YouTube video.  Below is the most recent video from NHTSA aimed at reducing traffic deaths.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

Hello, and thank you for reading.  My name is Ed Smith, and I have been a car accident lawyer in Sacramento, California, for 38 years.   The recent NHTSA report brings the good news that the number of fatal car accidents that occur annually has been on the decline in recent years.  We still have a long way to go.  Traffic accidents that cause injuries and deaths happen every day in Northern California.  When a negligent driver causes an accident that results in injuries to another party, the injured person is entitled to seek monetary compensation.  The negligent driver is responsible for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.  If you have been the unfortunate victim of another’s bad driving, the injury lawyers at my firm are happy to offer free and friendly legal advice.  Call us at (916) 921-6400, or if you are outside the local region, use our toll-free line at (800) 404-5400.  We also have an online contact form for those who prefer that method of communication.

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