While overall traffic deaths decreased by one percent nationally in 2018, pedestrian and bicyclist deaths rose from 2017, according to a preliminary report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“The auto safety agency said it did not know the cause of the overall decline but has said a dramatic increase in traffic deaths in 2016 was the result of more people killed on foot, bicycle or motorcycle,” Reuters reported.
The NHTSA defines a fatality as a death caused by a crash within 30 days of the event. The administration analyses several data sources before publishing their findings. In 2017 there was a 1.7 percent decrease in pedestrian deaths (down to 5,977) and an eight percent decrease in bicyclist deaths (down to 783).
There were 599 bicyclists, pedestrians and other people outside of automobiles killed by distracted drivers, but obtaining accurate figures is difficult because participants hesitate to admit that they were distracted.
“Estimates based on the data coded thus far into NHTSA’s FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) for 2018 reveals that the Nation saw slight estimated decreases in driver, passenger, and motorcyclist deaths,” the report states. “Fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck, pedestrian fatalities, and pedalcyclist fatalities are projected to increase by 3, 4, and 10 percent, respectively. Older drivers (65+) involved in fatal crashes also saw a slight increase.”
Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths are most problematic in major cities like New York, where they count for 46 percent of the 207 deaths in 2017. In urban areas across the U.S., traffic deaths are up by 17 percent since 2008 but are down 18 percent in rural areas.
“The fatality rate and number of deaths is down dramatically from 2007,” Reuters wrote, “when 41,259 people were killed and 1.36 deaths per 100 million miles were recorded.”