Death Toll On U.S. Highways At Near-Record Level

The increased carnage, especially among motorcyclists, may reflect more relaxed traffic laws.

"More attention should be placed on traffic issues," according to safety groups. "A single airplane crash could lead to public outcries while more than 40,000 deaths on the roads fail to generate much response."

"Countermeasures we are pursuing may be good, but they’re not enough,” said Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Full Story: U.S. highway deaths increase in 2005

Comments

Comments

What a grossly misleading title/article..

a REALLY quick google for "us highway deaths annually" leads to a site that lists this table.

Year Fatalities Vehicle Miles Rate/100M Vehicle Miles
1957 38,702 646,915 5.98
1958 36,981 664,915 5.56
1959 37,910 700,478 5.41
1960 38,137 718,845 5.31
1961 38,091 737,535 5.16
1962 40,804 766,852 5.32
1963 43,564 805,423 5.41
1964 47,700 846,500 5.63
1965 49,163 887,640 5.54
1966 51,524 927,915 5.55
1967 51,559 965,132 5.34
1968 53,831 1,019,726 5.28
1969 55,032 1,066,108 5.16
1970 53,672 1,114,098 4.82
1971 53,761 1,183,524 4.54
1972 55,704 1,264,614 4.40
1973 55,113 1,316,207 4.19
1974 46,078 1,282,790 3.59
1975 45,500 1,330,074 3.42
1976 45,523 1,402,380 3.25
1977 47,878 1,467,027 3.26
1978 50,331 1,544,704 3.26
1979 51,103 1,529,133 3.34
1980 51,091 1,527,295 3.35
1981 49,301 1,552,803 3.17
1982 43,945 1,595,010 2.76
1983 42,589 1,652,788 2.58
1984 44,257 1,720,269 2.57
1985 43,795 1,774,179 2.47
1986 46,056 1,835,000 2.51
1987 46,385 1,921,000 2.41
1988 47,093 2,026,000 2.32
1989 45,555 2,107,040 2.16
1990 44,529 2,147,501 2.07
1991 41,162 2,172,214 1.89
1992 39,235 2,239,828 1.75
1993 40,115 2,296,585 1.75
1994 40,676 2,359,984 1.72
1995 41,798 2,422,696 1.73
1996 41,907 2,485,848 1.69
1997 41,967 2,560,373 1.64

Now take a look at the column on the far right - that is highway deaths per 100 million miles driven and take a look at the trend. The current 43,000 fatalities can't even claim to be the highest number in net fatalities [that would be 1972 with 55,704].

And though the chart stops in 1997, I can make a pretty good inference based on the almost universally downward sloping trend that now (whenever now happens to be) is the safest time to drive that ever existed.

Of course, you don't get good media attention and the resultant push for legislation by saying "Death Tolls on US roads continue to drop", do you?

Misleading Planetizen title, yes, arty, no.

1. The Planetizen title is indeed misleading, if pa's chart is correct (no link provided to verify).

2. The MSNBC arty is much more clear on the numbers. Clicking thru will show this, and perhaps negate the 'push for legislation' assertion.

BTW - here is the latest chart from the NHTSA, showing the upward slope in total deaths since 1994, but the downward slope in death rates.

Best,

D

link here.

link here.

Dano - the bigger picture here is, that the data from your link and mine show that even though net fatalities rise, every single year the average deaths per miles driven have dropped. That doesn't come up anywhere in the article itself. I call it the 'act of making news' when no news is available..

hmmm

My guess is that there may be people driving a bazillion more miles, but that the death rate isn't rising in perfect unison with the increased mileage. this doesn't necessarily mean that driving is getting safer. death rates appear to be rather random, actually.

Pedestrian, motorcycle death rates up

death rates appear to be rather random, actually

Rates are steadily down, travis, with 2005 being the first up since 1986.

The WaPo reports the numbers perrryair and I discuss differently:

Last year, 4,553 motorcyclists died on the roadways, up 13 percent from the previous year. The agency said 4,881 pedestrians were killed last year, up 4.4 percent.

That is: the rise is due to ped and motorcycle deaths (more peds than motorcycles). The ped rise is troubling, no?

Best,

D

oops

In my haste, I said rates, but I really meant numbers of deaths. Sorry for that. Numbers of deaths do appear to fluctuate year to year. Now what I said above might make a little more sense?

Oops!

Yep, that would be me, the one responsible for the "headline." Sorry for the gaffe, goof, error, oversight...you name it. Thanks for being so alert and cleaning my clock. Your conversation has helped to shed real light on the problem of roadway deaths. Just this morning I was looking at a snippet in the LA Times on the traffic fatality spike this year in San Francisco. Gruesome: 29 people have died--three more than in all of 2005. Victims included a bicyclist and 15 pedestrians. Ouch.

...astounding that so many people die each day/year on the nation's roadways. The annual totals make me think of the Vietnam War, (although the context, conflict, time period, weapons, totals, etc. differ. Whew...no easy comparisons for me)! One death is too many as the article said.

By way of explanation, (but not excuse)I had referenced the relevant dates and statistics in the title and/or the subtitle at some point in the writing/editing process, but of course, my efficiency index on the word count was a little too high and I struck it out. Quelle horreur(?).

Anyway, bye (I'm getting too wordy) and thanks and keep reading/ commenting.

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