2018 was the third-deadliest year of the previous 10 years on American roadways.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated Monday that 36,750 people were killed in the U.S. in traffic crashes in 2018.
That’s down 1% from 2017, when 37,133 people were killed in crashes. It also marks the second straight year of declines.
But the number of people killed in crashes is still 12.2% above the all-time low of 32,744 in 2014. Total crash deaths never topped 34,000 from 2009 through 2014.
The stubbornly high number of people killed in crashes comes despite a heightened emphasis on advanced safety systems in new vehicles, such as collision avoidance, lane departure warning and partially automated steering.
Automotive safety experts say risky behavior is a major source of danger, including drinking, speeding and distraction.
Pedestrian safety crisis: Pedestrian deaths hit 28-year high, suggesting SUV boom raises risks
The agency is expected to release official figures and detailed commentary later this year, including updated data on the nation’s pedestrian safety crisis.
U.S. pedestrian deaths hit a 28-year high in 2018, according to recent estimates by the Governors Highway Safety Association. A Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY Network investigation in 2018 found that the nation’s SUV boom has been a leading cause of the increase in pedestrian deaths.
The Governors Highway Safety Association estimated that pedestrian deaths across the nation rose 4 percent to 6,227 last year.
In 2018, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled — a figure that factors out increases or decreases in total driving — was 1.14. That was down from 1.16 in 2017 but tied for the fourth highest of the previous 10 years.
Toward the end of President Barack Obama’s administration, the Department of Transportation announced a goal of eliminating all road fatalities within a few decades. That would require a wide range of solutions, including infrastructure upgrades and advanced self-driving vehicles, the DOT said at the time.
The Trump administration has maintained the “road to zero” goal but has announced few details about the roadmap to achieving it.
U.S. traffic deaths
- 2018: 36,750*
- 2017: 37,133
- 2016: 37,806
- 2015: 35,484
- 2014: 32,744
- 2013: 32,893
- 2012: 33,782
- 2011: 32,479
- 2010: 32,999
- 2009: 33,883
- 2008: 37,423
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.