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Crash deaths down, pedestrian deaths up in 2018

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released statistics indicating that the number traffic accident fatalities in California and across the country declined slightly from 2017 to 2018. The same statistics, though, show that the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed increased nationwide. According to the NHTSA, there were 36,560 traffic fatalities in 2018, 2% less than in 2017. The number of traffic deaths per 100 million miles driven dropped by 3%.

Motor vehicle travel continues to get safer. During the year 1975, when significantly fewer cars were on the roadways and considerably fewer people lived in the United States, there was an average of 3.4 fatalities per 100 million miles driven. That figure in 2018 was 1.1 fatalities per 100 million miles driven. The number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths, though, rose during 2018 to figures last seen in 1990. According to the NHTSA, there were 857 cyclist fatalities in 2018, a 6% increase over 2017, and 6,283 pedestrian fatalities, a 3% increase over 2017.

The NHTSA is in the process of creating a proposal designed to push for major improvements in crash testing. The recommendation will likely call for better crash-test dummies and labeling. It will also suggest standardized ratings of pedestrian detection systems and automatic emergency braking systems.

When a person is killed in a car accident, his or her estate and family may have claims for damages. For example, the wife of a man who dies in a car crash may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, medical expenses or other damages. An attorney who handles wrongful death cases might help by examining the facts of the case and identifying the parties who may be liable. A lawyer might be able to negotiate a monetary settlement with insurance companies or file a complaint in civil court if the case cannot be settled.