U.S. traffic deaths decreased nationwide in 2019 with a fatality rate the lowest since 2014, according to annual data released Friday from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
NHTSA reported 36,096 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019, down 2 percent from 36,835 in 2018 even as travel rose 0.8 percent.
The fatality rate fell to 1.1 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the lowest rate since 2014, compared with 1.14 in 2018. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased to the lowest percentage since 1982.
"We saw notable reductions in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, as well as fewer lives lost in alcohol-impaired driving crashes," NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owen said in a statement. "If we're to keep building on these numbers, everyone needs to do their part by driving sober, wearing their seat belts, avoiding speeding and distractions, and sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists."
NHTSA also released a supplementary report supporting its estimates for 2020 traffic fatalities and the role that COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders played.
While the number of traffic fatalities during April-June are projected to decrease, there is a projected increase in the proportion of fatalities in rural areas, among people ages 16 to 24, with risky drivers, in rollovers and ejections, and among occupants of vehicles 10 years old or older.
However, traffic deaths among older people are expected to decrease in 2020 because they may have stayed home during the pandemic.
"The 2019 fatality data comes in the context of increased risky driving behaviors during the 2020 public health emergency," the statement said.
NHTSA also expects that travel patterns and transportation options were changed by COVID-19 and could have an impact on fatalities.