Big Dip in Traffic Fatalities

A preliminary count of all road fatalities in 2009 shows a record low figure of 33,963; almost 9% lower than 2008. The final count is due this summer. While the declining VMT due to a depressed economy was a major factor, the rate declined as well.
March 28, 2010, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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It's the lowest level since 1954, while the rate (deaths per 100 million miles traveled) is the lowest ever. The Times offers some explanations for the falling numbers.

"The fatality rate, which takes into account the number of miles traveled, was 1.16 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, based on statistical projections of early data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The agency attributes the recent decline to a combination of factors, including nationwide campaigns aimed to increase seat belt use and to prevent drunken and distracted driving, and safer roads and vehicles. The agency also noted that people are driving less.

Mr. Kissinger said more analysis of the data was needed, but that most experts agreed that the recent downturn in the economy played a role. He said that better enforcement, more effective laws, like those that govern teenage driving, and improved technology, like electronic stability control, have also contributed to the lower death rate."

Thanks to Streetsblog Daily

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Published on Friday, March 12, 2010 in The New York Times - Wheels
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