The Numbers Behind the Country’s Decreasing Traffic Fatalities

Susannah Locke examines some of the data behind the United State’s steady decrease in auto fatalities since a peak in 1969, when 55,043 people died while driving.
April 7, 2014, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Susannah Locke, writing for new website Vox, cites a number of data points (referencing simple charts and graphs) to explain why auto fatalities are “way, way down” (although the numbers did not follow long-term trends in 2012):

  • “Data from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that deaths from drunk driving dropped by half since the early 1980s. One big factor: in the '80s, many states raised the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.” 
  • "As of 2012, US seat belt use averages 86 percent." 
  • "Although the general trend since 1971 has been more and more miles on the road, we've been traveling about 7 percent fewer miles per person since 2005."
Locke concludes by suggesting three improvements that could continue to decrease the number of people who die while driving.
For more on how planners and engineers could improve the safety of streets, a new post by Planetizen blogger Todd Litman examines the changing paradigms in traffic safety.
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Published on Sunday, April 6, 2014 in Vox
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