Traf­fic deaths fell slightly in 2017 af­ter 2-year spike

Manteca Bulletin - - Nation -

DETROIT (AP) — Traf­fic deaths on U.S. roads fell slightly in 2017 af­ter two straight years of big in­creases, but a lead­ing safety or­ga­ni­za­tion that com­piled the num­bers says it’s no cause for celebration.

The Na­tional Safety Coun­cil on Thurs­day es­ti­mated that 40,100 peo­ple were killed in traf­fic crashes last year, down just un­der 1 per­cent from the 2016 to­tal of 40,327. The group said it’s too early to tell whether the small de­cline means a down­ward trend af­ter a two-year spike in deaths that was blamed largely on peo­ple driv­ing more miles as the econ­omy im­proved as well as an in­crease in dis­tracted driv­ing.

“We’re tread­ing wa­ter, es­sen­tially,” said coun­cil spokes­woman Mau­reen Vo­gel. “We’re not mak­ing progress. This is the sec­ond year in a row we’re see­ing over 40,000 peo­ple killed in this coun­try on the road­ways.”

Fa­tal­i­ties rose 7 per­cent in 2016, on top of a 7 per­cent in­crease from 2014 to 2015, the steep­est two-year in­crease in over 50 years, ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil, which gets its data from states. Prior to 2016, an­nual deaths had not hit 40,000 since 2007, the year be­fore the econ­omy tanked.

Mo­tor-ve­hi­cle in­juries in 2017 also fell 1 per­cent to an es­ti­mated 4.57 mil­lion, and the es­ti­mated cost of ve­hi­cle deaths, in­juries and prop­erty dam­age was es­ti­mated at $413.8 bil­lion, also down 1 per­cent. The num­ber of miles driven last year by Amer­i­cans grew only 1 per­cent, eas­ing back from the 3 per­cent in­crease in 2016. An es­ti­mated 1.25 deaths oc­curred per 100 mil­lion ve­hi­cle miles trav­eled, the coun­cil said. That’s 2 per­cent lower than the 2016 rate.

Traf­fic deaths be­gan drop­ping in 2008 and reached their low­est point in six decades in 2011 at 32,000. They fluc­tu­ated slightly over the next two years, but started climb­ing in the last quar­ter of 2014.

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