New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that traffic deaths in the U.S. fell slightly in 2018 for the second straight year.

There were 36,560 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on U.S. roadways during 2018, a 2.4 percent decrease from 37,473 in 2017, which came after a 0.9 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), prior to 2016 there were two back-to-back yearly increases of 8.4 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Fatalities decreased from 2017 to 2018 in almost all segments of the population with the exception of fatalities in crashes involving large trucks and non-occupant fatalities (pedestrians and pedalcyclists).

There were 913 fewer fatalities in 2018 than 2017 in the following (but not limited to):

  • Passenger car occupants (702 fewer fatalities, 5.2-percent decrease)
  • Van occupants (98 fewer fatalities, 8.3-percent decrease)
  • SUV occupants (76 fewer fatalities, 1.6-percent decrease)
  • Pickup truck occupants (82 fewer fatalities, 1.9-percent decrease)
  • Motorcyclists (244 fewer fatalities, 4.7-percent decrease)
  • Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities (397 fewer fatalities, 3.6-percent decrease)
  • Speeding-related fatalities (569 fewer fatalities, 5.7-percent decrease)
  • Fatalities in single-vehicle crashes (654 fewer fatalities, 3.2-percent decrease)
  • Fatalities in multiple-vehicle crashes (259 fewer fatalities, 1.5-percent decrease)
  • Passenger vehicle occupants killed in rollover crashes (681 fewer fatalities, 9.5-percent decrease) 

Fatalities increased in 2018 compared to 2017 in these categories:

  • Large-truck occupants (7 more fatalities, 0.8-percent increase)
  • Pedestrians (208 more fatalities, 3.4-percent increase) 
  • Pedalcyclists (51 more fatalities, 6.3-percent increase) 

Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) based on early traffic volume trends (TVT) increased by 0.3 percent from 2017 to 2018. The fatality rate per 100 million VMT decreased by 3.4 percent from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018. Overall, 2018 VMT increased by 0.3 percent from 2017 VMT—from 3,212 billion to 3,223 billion. This 2018 VMT increase of 0.3 percent is less than the increase of 1.2 percent from 2016 to 2017. 

NHTSA officials attribute the falling numbers to newer technology in more vehicles that can help prevent crashes.