Safety Technology Helping Trim Traffic Death Numbers

Recently, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, released its report on traffic deaths that showed a slight decrease in fatal crashes. This news follows a trend started back in 2017 which saw a small decrease from 2016. Although most of the areas in which traffic deaths cover decreased, some increased such as bicyclists, pedestrians, and large truck occupants. Researchers believe the decrease is due to newer technology along with safety features becoming standard in most new models. The increases may be linked to distracted driving and similar factors. This post will discuss some of the numbers, features, and what we can do to decrease the problem areas. 

Numbers Don’t Lie

Despite a 2.4% decrease, which amounted to a little over 900 fewer deaths than the previous year, there still were 36,560 traffic deaths in 2018. So far in 2019, this decreasing trend has been holding up according to reports. The 2018 number break down looks like this:

  • 1,038 children perished, down more than 10% 
  • 9,378 speeding-related deaths, nearly down 6% 
  • 4,985 motorcycle fatalities, close to a  5% decrease

  • 6,283 pedestrians died, up 3%, which is the most since 1990
  • 857 bicyclist deaths, increased more than 6% 
  • 885 large-truck occupants died, increased by about 1% 

As you can see, certain areas have gotten better while others got worse. The scary signs of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths mark a dark period in which those not even driving are being fatally struck. Speculation says that increased distractions, or distracted driving, may play a large role in the increased numbers. In fact, according to NHTSA 2017 numbers, 599 nonoccupants, meaning pedestrians, bicyclists, and others were killed in distraction-affected crashes. So distracted driving certainly plays a role in the increase of fatal crashes but it is not the only factor. On the other hand, safety technology may be causing decreases in other areas and may help you get a discount on auto insurance.

Pedestrians & Bicyclists

Other key factors outside of distracted driving, include impaired driving, and driving at night. For both pedestrians and bicyclists, traffic deaths increased during evening hours. Sadly, the same goes for alcohol-impaired driving. While alcohol-impaired driving may be more preventable by taking alcohol out of the equation, the same can not be said for nighttime driving. Simply getting better headlights, improving street lighting or requiring bicyclists to wear reflective clothing may not be enough. Nighttime makes faraway objects more difficult to see, and therefore hard to react too. In order to be a safe driver at night, people should drive slower to allow themselves a chance to react appropriately. Additionally, people often become drowsy during evening hours, making reaction time slower. Luckily, automakers have increased the quality of safety features in their vehicles.

Safety First

While certain vehicle safety technology has been more useful than others, it is a positive sign that manufacturers are including them. For a long time, and in some cases still today, advanced features came as a purchasable perk instead of standard. Now, features such as adaptive cruise control, driver drowsiness monitoring and lane-departure warnings are becoming standard.

It’s not that the features have gotten better but the fact that they are included has certainly helped people drive safer. Of course, having safety technology could get you a bit of a discount on auto insurance. 

Key Points

  • Traffic deaths overall have decreased from 2017 → 2018 (by 2.4%) 
  • The decreasing trend seems to be holding true for 2019 so far
  • 3 areas of traffic deaths increased: pedestrians, bicyclists, and large truck occupants
  • Distracted driving and driving at night play large roles in the increases 
  • Certain safety technology becoming standard has helped drivers avoid or minimize accidents and may lower auto insurance premiums