Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate the four-year upward trend in motor vehicle deaths that began in 2015 is slowing, with the number of fatalities in the first six months of 2019 dropping 3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2018.
An estimated 18,580 people died on U.S. roadways between January and June of this year, compared to the Council's revised estimate of 19,060 during the same period last year. An additional 2.1 million people are estimated to have sustained serious crash-related injuries during the first six months of 2018 – a 1 percent drop from 2018 six-month projections.
The estimate caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s. A total of 118,315 people died on the roadways between 2015 and 2017, and an estimated 40,000 additional people perished last year. However, drivers still face the same fatality risk this year as they did when fatalities were eclipsing 40,000 annually, because the estimated annual rate of deaths per miles driven has remained stable – NSC estimates 1.2 deaths per every million vehicle miles traveled, unchanged from 2018 rates.
"While the numbers indicate a slight improvement, the rate of deaths remains stagnant, and 18,580 deaths so far this year is unacceptable," said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "We cannot accept death as the price of mobility. We urge all drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive defensively.