America’s roads got slightly safer between 2016 and 2017, the federal government reported on Wednesday. In total, 37,133 people died in car crashes last year, compared with 37,806 who died the preceding year.
The welcome news comes after two consecutive years of significant increases; fewer than 33,000 people died on American roads in 2014. But the longer-term trend has been overwhelmingly positive. America suffered more than 50,000 highway deaths per year in the early 1970s.
That change is even more impressive when you consider the steady increase in miles traveled over the same period. Fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled have fallen from 3.35 in 1975 to 1.16 in 2017.