Rate of traffic deaths reaches new record low

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Preliminary data from the NHTSA on 2011 traffic deaths indicate they are at the lowest levels in years. Photo Credit: Ragesoss/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Traffic fatalities may not be the leading cause of death in the United States, but they are among the most preventable, leading government officials to focus on reducing them. Early data from 2011 traffic fatalities indicates they have fallen to the lowest levels on record.

Death in decline

According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 34. More than 2.3 million people are treated in emergency rooms each year for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. The economic impact of injuries and deaths from traffic accidents was estimated to be at least $70 billion per year by 2005.

Thankfully, however, the number of traffic deaths has been in a steady decline for some time. According to the Detroit Free Press, the number of traffic fatalities has been going down every year since 2005, when there were 43,510 deaths. By 2010, traffic fatalities had decreased to 32,885, a decrease of more than 10,000.

Preliminary data from 2011 traffic deaths, according to AutoBlog, indicates the number of traffic deaths has continued to decline.

Record low number

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration releases annual data on traffic fatalities every year. The full report is not prepared yet, but preliminary data released by the NHTSA indicate traffic deaths have declined again.

The estimated number of traffic deaths from 2011 was 32,310, a 1.7 percent decrease over last year. The figure is derived by statistical projection; the actual number may be higher or lower. However, assuming the final tally is the same or close, that marks a 26 percent decline since 2005. It also, according to USA Today, could mean the lowest number of deaths recorded since traffic fatalities were first tracked in 1949.

Record low rates

In 2010, the traffic fatality rate was 1.11 per 100 million miles traveled, or for every 100 million miles collectively traveled by all cars in the nation, 1.11 people are killed. Assuming the NHTSA estimates are correct, the rate would have declined to 1.09 fatalities per 100 million.

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The decline was sharpest in New England states, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The NHTSA divides the country into 10 regions; the region composed of the six states of New England had an estimated drop in fatalities of 7.2 percent. The sharpest increase was in California, Arizona and Hawaii, where traffic deaths were projected to have increased by 3.3 percent.

The report with the final numbers is due out this fall.


Detroit Free Press


USA Today

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Highway-death-rate-falls-to-record-low-3539924.php

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/index.html

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