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U.S. Motor vehicle deaths down in 2019, figures show

The council's report said road improvements and vehicle safety features contributed to the overall decline in deaths last year. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The council's report said road improvements and vehicle safety features contributed to the overall decline in deaths last year. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Deaths from vehicle accidents in the United States declined in 2019 for the second year in a row, to about 38,000, new figures from the National Safety Council shows.

The NSC issued its yearly report Thursday that documents deaths attributed to road crashes. Last year's figure was a 2 percent decline from 2018, it said.

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The council said about 4.4 million people required medical treatment for accidents, which is also a 2 percent decline, and the number of pedestrian-involved deaths rose.

The report credits the overall decrease in 2019 to road redesigns at trouble spots in some U.S. cities, the Vision Zero risk mitigation program and vehicle safety improvements like backup cameras.

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Last year, the state of Utah also lowered the blood-alcohol limit in its drunk driving statute -- from 0.08 percent to 0.05 -- and other states are mulling similar changes, the NSC report noted.

Vermont showed the greatest year-to-year reduction in deaths, 31 percent, followed by New Hampshire (30 percent) and South Dakota (21 percent). Deaths increased by 35 percent in Maine and 32 percent in Wyoming. Driver distractions and "drowsy driving" were involved in about 10 percent of crashes last year, the report added.

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"Thirty-eight thousand deaths is still unacceptable, even if it is fewer than in years past," said council CEO Lorraine Martin. "We are encouraged by the actions so many organizations are taking to reduce deaths, and we applaud legislation that curtails common crash causes such as impairment, distraction and speed."

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The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization that promotes health and safety in the United States.

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