WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPRI/AP) — Traffic deaths fell in the United States by a small amount for the second straight year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA).
In 2018, there was a 2.4% decline in overall fatalities.
But Elaine Chao, the U.S. secretary of transportation, said in a statement it’s still too many — 36,560 people were still killed in 2018, and efforts must continue to prevent crashes.
In Rhode Island alone, 59 people were killed in driving fatalities in 2018, which is down nearly 30% from the year before. The state had the largest percentage drop nationwide.
Chief of Highway Safety at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Gabrielle Abbate said Rhode Island’s decrease shows that the state’s 10-year plan to make roads safer is working.
But she also said the state still has a lot of work left to do.
“The only acceptable number is zero,” Abbate said. “Is it feasible? I have to believe it is.”
In Massachusetts, there were 360 people killed in driving fatalities in 2018, up 3.7% from 2017.
Among the issues the U.S. Department of Transportation is focusing on now are pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. Pedestrian deaths rose by 3.4%. Bicycle or other pedaled vehicle riders killed went up by a rate of 6.3%.
Seventy-six percent of the pedestrian deaths and half of the cyclist deaths happened after dark, the agency said. Some of those pedestrians and cyclists killed had alcohol in their systems and 74% of the pedestrian deaths happened outside intersections.
Other death rate declines nationwide:
- Child fatalities (14 and younger) declined 10.3%
- Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities declined 3.6%
- Speeding-related fatalities declined 5.7%
- Motorcyclist fatalities declined 4.7%