The death of American Horror Story: Freak Show star Ben Woolf served as a reminder this week that car crashes involving pedestrians remain a problem, and a new study issued on Thursday reinforced that the situation isn't really getting better.

The Governors Highway Safety Association found a slight decline, 2.8 percent, in the number of pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2014. Fatalities dropped from 2,141 to 2,125 compared with the same period in 2013, though the association says it's a statistical wash when factoring in undercounting. Deaths are still 15-percent higher than in 2009.

"The number of deaths remains relatively high and is cause for concern," wrote Allan Williams, who compiled the report and is the former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

This is the first look at data from last year, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will issue its full-year results later.

The GHSA found some progress on the roadways, as 24 states and the District of Columbia reported drops in pedestrian deaths. In some states, the problem isn't even a problem at all: Nebraska and Wyoming reported one fatality apiece, though large population centers in urban areas are where most accidents occur.

"This is a clearly a good news, bad news scenario," Jonathan Adkins, GHSA executive director, said in a statement. "While we're encouraged that pedestrian fatalities haven't increased over the past two years, progress has been slow."

Other News & Notes

Cadillac CT6 OscarsCadillac previews CT6 during Oscars

Cadillac previewed its upcoming flagship sedan, the CT6, in commercials that aired Sunday during the Oscars. As expected, the creased sedan carries on Cadillac's recent design language, and the car in the commercial looks like a larger version of the CTS and ATS sedans.

The CT6 will be revealed this spring at the New York Auto Show and launch late this year. It will be assembled at General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck factory on a rear-wheel-drive chassis, and the CT6 is the first car to use Cadillac's revised alpha-numeric naming scheme. The commercials also kicked off Cadillac's "Dare Greatly" campaign, which is the first with its new advertising agency, Publicis Worldwide.

JAPAN-AUTO-HONDA-ITOHonda unexpectedly changes CEOs

Honda unexpectedly announced this week that it will change CEOs. Current chief Takanobu Ito will step down in June and be replaced by company veteran Takahiro Hachigo. The move comes as Honda is embroiled in controversy involving Takata airbags and quality issues with its vehicles.

Despite Honda's recent troubles, the move was a surprise. Ito had led Honda for nearly six years, shepherding it through the economic downturn, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster of 2011 (which hampered its operations) and other pitfalls. He'll remain on the board and have an advisor role with the company.

Hachigo has an engineering background and has held high-ranking positions for Honda around the world, including in Europe, China and the United States. He also oversaw development of the first-generation of the US-built Odyssey minivan.

Audi R8Audi powers up for Geneva, will build R8 E-Tron

The Geneva Motor Show is just days away, and it's shaping up to be a spectacular event, as usual. Though the Aston Martin Vulcan and McLaren 675LT are already poised to be show-stoppers, don't overlook Audi.

The German car company is bringing a new R8 to Geneva, which is big news for enthusiasts. While it looks similar to the previous model, there are some subtle design tweaks and it's a significant upgrade. The second-generation R8 uses a new spaceframe, updated Quattro all-wheel drive and (for now) is going V10-only, though more variants are expected. Significantly, Audi also confirmed it will build an E-Tron version with an electric range of 280 miles (look out Tesla). The LMS racecar, which shares about 50 percent of its parts with the road car, has been also updated and will be tested this year in preparation for the 2016 season.

Meanwhile, Audi showed off the Prologue Avant concept ahead of its formal Geneva debut, and the attractive prototype showcases design direction and plug-in possibilities for the brand. The hybrid technology, which is borrowed from the system in the Q7 E-tron, offers 455 horsepower and an electric driving range of 34 miles.

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Audi Prologue Concept Walk Around | Autoblog Short Cuts

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