Car crashes killed 36,096 people in the US in 2019

Enlarge / A truck on Route 93 in Canton, MA, rolled over on Dec. 7, 2020.

Motor automobile visitors crashes killed 36,096 individuals in 2019, in accordance with new knowledge from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s a 2 p.c decline from the 2018 determine and a continuation of a decades-long development towards safer roads.

Traffic fatalities peaked within the late Nineteen Seventies, with greater than 50,000 individuals dying per 12 months. Since then, annual deaths have usually been trending downwards.

Progress on street security noticed a short reversal between 2014 and 2016, when fatalities rose from 32,744 to 37,806. But since then, the determine has declined three years in a row—although it is nonetheless not under the document lows of the early 2010s.

Progress has been much more dramatic while you think about America’s rising inhabitants and miles traveled. Fatalities per 100 million miles of driving fell from 3.35 in 1975 to 1.10 in 2019.

As I wrote a few years in the past, quite a few components have contributed to the long-term development towards safer roads, together with automobiles engineered for higher crash-worthiness, rising use of seat belts and airbags, and stricter enforcement of drunk-driving legal guidelines. In the Nineteen Seventies, 60 p.c of visitors fatalities within the United States concerned alcohol use. In 2019, it was lower than 30 p.c.

Pedestrians and cyclists in danger

While the information is nice total, the most recent NHTSA report does spotlight a couple of areas of concern. The NHTSA says that 3,142 individuals died on account of distracted driving—a ten p.c improve over the 2018 determine of two,858. However, it isn’t clear if there is a long-term development right here. For instance, 3,263 deaths in 2015 had been attributed to distracted driving.

Over the final decade, rural highways have gotten safer whereas city streets have gotten extra harmful. Rural freeway deaths fell from 18,089 in 2010 to 16,340 in 2019 as rural miles traveled stayed flat. In distinction, city roadway deaths elevated by 34 p.c as city miles traveled elevated solely 15 p.c.

That’s partly as a result of considerably extra pedestrians and cyclists have died on city roadways. “Pedestrian fatalities in urban areas increased by 62 percent since 2010,” NHTSA says, whereas they fell by 5 p.c in rural areas. Similarly, city bike owner fatalities rose by 49 p.c between 2010 and 2019, whereas declining by nearly 5 p.c in rural areas.

This could partly mirror the rising reputation of bicycle commuting and walkable city neighborhoods—NHTSA’s report does not estimate how the numbers of city pedestrians and cyclists on the street have modified since 2010.

In any occasion, there’s motive to hope that higher automated emergency braking expertise might assist cut back deaths amongst pedestrians and bicyclists within the coming years. Many automobiles at present have AEB options, however many aren’t subtle sufficient to detect pedestrians and bicyclists. A brand new era of AEB methods outfitted with lidar sensors might tremendously enhance these methods over the subsequent 5 years.

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