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Data: U.S. motor vehicle deaths remain stable

Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate the recent upward trend motor vehicle deaths in the United States has continued its leveling off, with the number of fatalities in the first six months of 2018 dipping just slightly – less than 0.5 percent – from six-month 2017 estimates.

The findings were released this week via news release.

Approximately 18,720 people died on U.S. roadways between January and June, compared to the council’s revised estimate of 18,770 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 2017 six-month projections.

The small drop is not so much an indication of progress as much as a stabilization of the steepest two-year increase in over 50 years, which occurred between 2014 and 2016, the council said. If the preliminary 2018 estimate holds, the U.S. could see its third straight year with about 40,000 roadway deaths.

The Labor Day holiday weekend estimates are also in line with last year’s trend. National Safety Council estimates 420 people will be killed during the three-day weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3.

“When it comes to this leading cause of accidental death, we aren’t making progress – we’re treading water,” said Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council. “We cannot accept more than 18,700 deaths as the price of mobility. We hope these numbers remind drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive defensively so we can get on the road to zero deaths.”

While the national trend has remained stable, the council’s early estimates indicate some states have seen progress. In the first half of this year, several states have experienced at least a 10 percent drop in motor vehicle deaths including Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and New York.

A sample of states with increases through the first six months include California (3 percent), Florida (7 percent), Oregon (9 percent) and Texas (3 percent).

The National Safety Council has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature.

National Safety Council collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.

Unlike the larger increases in motor vehicle deaths that occurred at the height of the economic recovery, cumulative monthly miles driven have increased only 0.3 percent from 2017 through May of this year. That slowdown in the rate of motor vehicle travel has affected the fatality trends through the first six months of 2018.

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