Aug. 16 (UPI) -- More than 18,000 people have been killed on U.S. roads so far this year -- down 1 percent from a year ago -- but a new report says overall deaths remain historically high.
"The country is fresh off the steepest estimated two-year increase in motor vehicle deaths since 1964, and it is too early to conclude whether the upward trend is over," the National Safety Council said in a statement. "The estimated deaths during the first six months of 2017 still are 8 percent higher than the 2015 six-month estimates.
"And the final six months of the calendar year -- July to December -- tend to be deadlier than the first six."
While 18,680 people were killed on U.S. roads since January, more than 2 million were also seriously injured. Those deaths and injuries have cost an estimated $191 million, the report said.
The NSC said an improved economy and lower gas prices helped generate a 1.7 percent increase in miles driven by Americans in the past year.
"The price of our cultural complacency is more than a hundred fatalities each day," NSC President Deborah A.P. Hersman said. "Although the numbers may be leveling off, the Road to Zero deaths will require accelerating improvements in technology, engaging drivers and investing in our infrastructure."
The NSC estimates up to 40,000 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2016 and the council estimates that number could be passed by the end of this year.