According to data analyzed by the National Safety Council (NSC), motor vehicle deaths in the first six months of 2017 are 1% lower when compared to the same six-month period in 2016.

However, the group cautioned that the U.S. 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 estimated highway deaths during the first six months of 2017 still are 8% 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, NSC stressed.

An estimated 18,680 people have been killed on U.S. roads since January this year, with a projected 2.1 million were seriously injured, the group added, with the total estimated cost of these deaths and injuries standing at $191 billion.

“The price of our cultural complacency is more than a hundred fatalities each day,” noted Deborah Hersman, NSC’s president and CEO, in a statement. “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.”

Last winter, the group estimated as many as 40,000 people were killed on the roads in 2016 – a 6% rise over 2015 and the largest two-year percentage increase in deaths in 53 years.

Those estimates – as well as the 2017 preliminary estimates – are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature, the group pointed out.   

Factors impacting motor vehicle fatality trends include an improved economy and lower gas prices, both of which have helped fuel a 1.7% increase in miles driven from 2016 to 2017, NSC added.