The number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes reached its lowest level in five years in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency says 36,560 people died on U.S. roadways last year.

While the 2.4% drop in fatalities, overall, was good news, NHTSA reports a disturbing rise in deaths involving pedestrians and cyclists. Last year, 6,283 pedestrians were killed, the highest number since 1990, and a 3.4% increase over 2017.

Vulnerable road users are killed at an alarming rate

While the rise in pedestrian deaths is troubling, NHTSA reports cyclists fare even worse on the roadways. Statistics for 2018 include:

  • 857 cyclists were killed
  • The number of deaths increased by 6.3% from 2017
  • Deaths of female cyclists rose by 29.2%
  • Male cyclist deaths increased by 3.2%

Distracted drivers and larger vehicles contribute to increase

Safety advocates say the rise in cyclist and pedestrian deaths is tied to the increasing number of distracted drivers on the road as well as more people buying SUVs and pickup trucks. Advocates say federal, state and local governments have also been slow to upgrade roadways, add more bike lanes and make safety improvements to intersections and crosswalks.

Missouri sees a slight decrease in fatalities

While the number of traffic deaths declined across the country last year, Missouri also saw a 1.2% drop as 921 people died on state roadways, compared to 932 in 2017. Another positive statistic coming from the report is a decline in the number of alcohol-related deaths. Fatalities involving alcohol dropped 3.6% nationally, and 2.8% in Missouri.

Distracted drivers remain a concern

While the total number of deaths declined in 2018, nearly 400,000 people are injured in traffic wrecks each year, creating massive personal and financial consequences for victims. NHTSA cites an alarming rise in distracted driving as one of the leading causes of crashes. If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, an experienced personal injury attorney here in Missouri will work to get the compensation you deserve.