Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nationwide Traffic Fatalities Continue To Decline

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued its annual summary of traffic safety for 2009, which shows that roads in the US are the safest they have ever been. Traffic fatalities dropped 8.9% nationwide compared to 2008. This follows a 10.5% decline from 2007-2008. The report showed that nationwide fatalities were 21.9% lower in 2009 than in 2005. The total fatalities nationwide were at the lowest level since 1954, when the number of US drivers was about 1/2 what it is today.

Traffic fatalities per vehicle mile also dipped from 1.25 per 100million vehicle-miles in 2008 to 1.16 in 2009, a continuation of a 30 year long decline in fatalities per mile traveled.

The report largely attributes the decline to campaigns to increase seatbelt use and reduce drunk driving. Safety improvements to roads and vehicles were also cited. The large decline seen in 2008 had been attributed to rising gas prices and poor economic conditions cutting miles traveled. Reduced total driving and reduced recreational driving were cited for the 2009 decline as well, however there was an small (0.2%) increase in vehicle miles traveled in 2009 despite recession conditions. The report did not list automated traffic enforcement, which is still only used on a very small minority of roads in the US, as a contributing factor.