Missouri readers might be relieved to learn that U.S. traffic fatalities decreased by 1% in 2018, according to preliminary numbers released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the drop is small, it marks the second year in a row that roadway deaths have gone down following significant increases in 2015 and 2016.
The NHTSA reports that an estimated 36,750 Americans were killed in traffic accidents last year. In comparison, there were 37,133 fatalities in 2017. While overall deaths declined, the agency says that there were some troubling trends in 2018. For example, crashes involving large trucks increased by 3%, pedestrian deaths jumped by 4% and bicyclist deaths spiked by an alarming 10%.
One reason that pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities may have increased is that more people are now living in urban areas. Numbers from Automotive News show that pedestrian deaths accounted for just 12% of all traffic deaths in 1996, but they accounted for 16% of all deaths in 2017. Conversely, deaths of motor vehicle occupants have fallen over the last two decades. In 1996, motor vehicle occupants accounted for 80% of all traffic deaths. By 2017, that number had fallen to just 67%. Pedestrians, bicycle riders and motorcycle riders accounted for the remaining 33%.
Car accidents cost the U.S. billions of dollars in medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and missed work days each year, and insurance claims don't always cover the costs. However, individuals who are injured in car crashes caused by other drivers could take legal action to recover their losses. For example, with the help of an attorney, an injured victim may file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the crash. As a result of this action, the plaintiff might receive a settlement that covers hospital bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage and more.