According to the United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 36,560 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents on United States roadways during 2018, marking the second consecutive year that motor vehicle fatalities declined. The decrease in fatal traffic accidents comes even as more people drove in 2018. Of the categories assessed, speeding was the most predominant factor, accounting for 9,378 of the total fatalities. Fatalities decreased in almost all categories with the exception of crashes involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and large trucks. The largest decline was seen in fatal motor vehicle accidents involving children ages fourteen and younger. From 2017 to 2018, pedestrian fatalities increased by three percent to 6,283, representing the most pedestrian deaths since 1990. The number of bicyclist deaths increased by more than six percent from 2017, accounting for 857 of the fatalities reported in 2018. Large-truck occupant deaths increased approximately one percent from 2017. The Texas Department of Transportation also reported a 5.84 percent decline in fatal motor vehicle accidents from 2017 to 2018. However, there were no fatality-free days on Texas roadways in 2018.
A recent study by Rice University's Kinder Institute found that intersections with stop lights are nine times more likely to have a fatal crash with pedestrians and bicyclists than those without stop lights. The study was prompted by the death of Rice University Professor Marjorie Corcoran who was hit and killed by a METRO light rail train near the Houston Medical Center in February. During the study, researchers examined records of all traffic crashes within the city of Houston from January 2010 to September 2016. Throughout this six-year period, there were 3,952 intersection-related automobile accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Of those accidents, 90 resulted in a fatality, 1,802 resulted in an injury, and 2,060 were no-injury crashes. From 2012 to 2015, researchers noted a 42 percent increase in intersection-related collisions in Houston.
In an about-face after seven years of decline, traffic fatalities rose 5% in 2012 according to an analysis of preliminary state data by the National Safety Council. This is the first increase since 2004 to 2005, and many speculate there is a correlation between the improved national economy, a mild winter, and increased traffic on our roads. There are others who speculate that drivers were driving differently, and the economy put an increased number of bigger vehicles on the road - which are more often involved in serious injury and fatality wrecks.