While car accidents and fatalities continue to decrease each year, injuries and deaths from crashes that do occur should not be ignored. Thousands of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians suffer life-altering, even fatal injuries in motor vehicle collisions every year. Medical bills and loss of income from the inability to work can quickly lead to financial hardship.
NHTSA Unsure Why Fewer Deadly Crashes
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2019 data shows that crash fatalities have decreased for the third year in a row in the United States. An estimated 36,120 people were killed in car accidents last year, which is a 1.2% drop from 2018. The NHTSA has not specified the reasons why crash fatalities have declined and may adjust its numbers later this year after more data becomes available.
While it is too soon to say for sure why the numbers have dropped, Car and Driver magazine suggests that it is not because people are driving less. There was a 0.9% increase in road miles traveled over 2018’s numbers. Another possible explanation is that more cars have driver assistance systems that feature such technologies as:
- Pedestrian detection
- Automated emergency braking
Now for the Bad News, Pedestrian Deaths Are Up
Though the number of car crash deaths is down, the number of pedestrian deaths is up. In February, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced that 6,590 pedestrian deaths occurred in 2019. That is a 5% increase from last year. It is also the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1988.
Will COVID-19 Have an Impact on the Number of Crashes?
A timely concern of the GHSA that seems to be related to the current COVID-19 crisis is that there is a significant increase in the number of traffic crashes from speeding. Instead, one might expect that the number of crashes would decrease since in many parts of the country people are sheltering at home.
As businesses start to reopen and more people are out on the roads again after quarantining for so long, the GHSA warns there could be an increase in car crashes this year. The governors have further warned that drivers and pedestrians should keep safety in mind while traveling to prevent accidents.