Roadway fatalities in the U.S. dipped slightly in 2018 to approximately 40,000, representing just a 1% decrease from 2017 and 2016, when 40,231 and 40,327 people were killed in motor vehicles crashes, respectively.
At the same time, the 2018 fatality figure is 14% higher than it was in 2014. The National Safety Council released the preliminary estimates on Feb. 13.
The report also estimates that 4,560,000 people were seriously injured during roadway collisions in 2018. This number is also just a 1% reduction over the 2017 figures.
With three consecutive years of at least 40,000 deaths, the preliminary data points to a leveling off after years of consecutive spikes. Even so, the council says 40,000 fatalities is "simply unacceptable" and believes driver behavior is a key contributing factor to the number remaining so high.
For example, the report found that 8% of the fatal crashes involved distracted driving while another 2% involved drowsy driving.
Several states experienced spikes in fatalities in 2018 as compared with 2017. Hawaii with 117 deaths, Nevada with 331 and Pennsylvania with 1,244, all experienced a 9% increase over 2017. Florida saw an 8% rise with 3,325 lost lives and both Minnesota and Oregon experienced a 7% increase over 2017 with 382 and 468 roadway deaths, respectively. The District of Columbia saw a 13% increase with 34 fatalities in 2018.
Motor vehicle deaths in 2018 decreased by more than 9.4% in five states — Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wyoming — as compared to annual totals for 2017.