By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Traffic fatalities in 2018 declined 1.0 percent from 2017, to an estimated 36,750 people, according to preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As American motorists’ total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by 0.4 percent in 2018, the fatality rate declined to an estimated 1.14 per 100 million VMT, a drop from 1.16 in 2017.

Pedestrian deaths increased 4 percent and bicyclist deaths rose 10 percent in 2018, the early estimates indicate. Fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck also increased by an estimated 3 percent.

NHTSA’s “early estimate data” does not mention work zone crash rates. Worker fatalities in road construction sites declined to 132 in 2017, compared to 143 in 2016, according to November 2018 data from the Federal Highway Administration.

NHTSA warns “it is too soon to speculate on the contributing factors or potential implications of any changes in deaths on our road­ways” in 2018. Final data is expected by the end of this year.