Highway fatalities fall but safety concerns remain

West Virginia residents may be relieved to hear that deaths caused by car accidents declined for the second straight year in 2018. While the total of 36,560 deaths nationwide is still staggering, it represents a 2.4% decline over the previous year. Statistics in 2017 also declined slightly after a significant increase that accompanied the national recovery after the 2008-2009 financial crisis. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this positive movement is continuing. In the first half of 2019, traffic deaths are down by another 3.4%. In addition, the number of people killed per total miles driven has dropped dramatically since the early 1970s.

However, pedestrians and cyclists may have more reason to be concerned. In 2018, 6,283 pedestrians were killed in auto accidents, representing an increase of 3.4%. These statistics also reflect the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990. The number of pedestrian fatalities declined consistently until 2009, but statistics show a 53% increase since that time. Cyclist deaths also rose by 6.3% in 2018, reaching a total of 857. The NHTSA said it was looking into ways to encourage technological advances that could protect pedestrians.

Large truck accidents were another source of worry in 2018. Fatalities linked to them rose by 1%, and truck safety advocates said that the 4,951 lives lost indicate the importance of improved safety standards. Some federal officials have argued for the elimination or reduction of safety standards that limit the number of hours truck drivers can work, but safety advocates said that truck driver fatigue continues to pose a serious threat.

Motor vehicle collisions also cause hundreds of thousands of catastrophic injuries every year. People hurt in a crash due to another person's negligent driving may work with a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for their damages.

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