The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that final 2017 highway fatality numbers show a reduction in deaths after two consecutive years of large increases.

In addition, preliminary estimates for the first six months of 2018 appear to show that the downward trend continues into this year.

“Safety is the Department’s number one priority,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “The good news is that fatalities are trending downward after increasing for the two previous years. But, the tragic news is that 37,133 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. All of us need to work together to reduce fatalities on the roads.”

In 2017, 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, a decrease of almost two percent from 2016. Other changes include:

  • Pedestrian fatalities declined about two percent, the first decline since 2013
  • For the second year in a row, more fatalities occurred in urban areas than rural areas
  • Combination trucks involved in fatal crashes increased 5.8 percent
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by 1.2 percent from 2016 to 2017; and
  • The fatality rate per 100 million VMT decreased by 2.5 percent, from 1.19 in 2016 to 1.16 in 2017

“Dangerous actions such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence are still putting many Americans, their families and those they share the road with at risk,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi R. King. “Additionally, we must address the emerging trend of drug-impaired driving to ensure we are reducing traffic fatalities and keeping our roadways safe for the traveling public.”

Click here to view the 2017 fatal motor vehicle crashes; overview research note
Click here to view 2018 preliminary data