The annual estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, as to the number of traffic fatalities across the country was recently announced.
In 2018, NHTSA is estimating that there will be 36,750 reported fatalities on the nation's highways and roads. This estimate, which is still subject to change slightly, is 1% lower than the 2017 figure, 37,133. It is also lower than the 2016 total of 37,806.
Sadly, it is still significantly, over 10%, higher than the number of half a decade ago. According to NHTSA, there were 32,744 traffic fatalities in 2014 and 32,893 in 2013.
As additional good news, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled also fell. In 2017, the fatality rate was 1.17, while in 2018, assuming the estimate holds, the rate will be 1.14.
Perhaps the worst news is that pedestrians both in Louisiana and throughout the country continue to die in unprecedented numbers. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, another group devoted to highway safety, the number of pedestrian deaths will hit a 28-year high point in 2018. Specifically, it estimates that there will be 6,227 pedestrian fatalities in 2018, a 4% increase over 2017.
While the continuing rise in the number of pedestrian deaths has troubled many experts, it is hard to pin them on one cause. Distracted or inattentive driving, and especially texting and driving, are easy to blame. Moreover, some have suggested a connection between pedestrian deaths and the enduring popularity of SUVs.
In an event, these numbers should inspire drivers in and around Houma to be alert behind the wheel and to follow both Louisiana's traffic laws and common sense safety practices. If they fail to do so, and they cause a fatal car accident the families of their victims may be able to hold them accountable in a wrongful death case.