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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There is both good news and bad news in the latest government accounting of highway fatalities.

The good news: The number of people who died in vehicle crashes in 2018 dropped 2.4%, to 36,560, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported this week.

  • That's 913 fewer people than in 2017, and the second year in a row that highway fatalities have dropped.
  • NHTSA credited new car safety technology, and noted that alcohol- and speeding-related fatalities were both lower.

Now, the bad news, which is getting worse: Pedestrian and cyclist deaths keep rising.

  • 6,283 pedestrians were killed by cars in 2018, up 3.4%.
  • 857 cyclists died in vehicle crashes, up 6.3%.
  • The vast majority of those deaths occurred after dark, NHTSA says.
  • Pedestrian deaths are up 50% in the past decade, reports Wired.

Distraction could be a factor — by both motorists and pedestrians — but the popularity of trucks and SUVs could also be contributing to the spike in pedestrian deaths.

  • Taller, heavier vehicles are more likely to strike a person in the torso or head, rather than in the legs.

What to watch: The NHTSA plans to upgrade its 5-star rating system for new vehicles to include technologies for pedestrian and cyclist safety.

  • Yes, but: So far, AAA testing shows that pedestrian detection and braking systems don't work very well.

Go deeper: Pedestrians are dying while vehicle safety tech lags

Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.