Friday, September 10, 2010

Adjusted for Vehicle Miles, Highway Deaths in 2009 Were the Lowest Ever Recorded, Back to 1921


"U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood yesterday released updated 2009 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 33,808 for the year, the lowest number since 1950 (see top chart above). The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even while estimated vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels.

In addition, 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded: 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008 (see bottom chart above)."

From the Detroit News:

"Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, attributed the improvement in traffic statistics "to a host of factors, including increased seat belt use, stronger enforcement of drunken driving laws, better roads, safer vehicles and an increasingly well-coordinated approach to safety."

But the automakers also claimed a share of the credit.  "What we are seeing now is the payoff from years of manufacturer-driven safety improvements, like anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control systems coupled with high visibility enforcement safety efforts by law enforcement," said Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers President and CEO Dave McCurdy."

13 Comments:

At 9/10/2010 2:02 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Some people said that government regulations which effectively mandated smaller vehicles would lead to more highway deaths because the smaller cars offered less protection.

 
At 9/10/2010 2:15 PM, Blogger Colin said...

In looking at the second graph, keep in mind that the first auto design legislation was passed in 1940, seat belt laws were passed in 1966 and NHTSA was established in 1970. Anyone see a correlation between any of that and the safety record? I doubt it.

The most likely explanation is that a richer more technologically advanced country can afford safer cars.

Also worth noting is that the 55mph mandate was repealed in the mid-90s, yet deaths did not increase.

 
At 9/10/2010 3:17 PM, Blogger John said...

Another factor is more miles driven on four lane roads. Divided highways are dramaticly safer than two lane.

 
At 9/10/2010 3:59 PM, Blogger fboness said...

Boomers! Look at where the Boomers start driving in the '60s and how the accident rate declines as they mature.

 
At 9/10/2010 8:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Some people said that government regulations which effectively mandated smaller vehicles would lead to more highway deaths because the smaller cars offered less protection."

That's still in the future.

 
At 9/10/2010 8:48 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Government regulations are baloney (they only appeal to the socialist) and just drive up the cost of vehicles without adding anything useful...

The cars today have better engineering in them but I'd rather be in a '68 Impala if I was going to have an accident...

Some road-safety advocates are not yet ready to celebrate. They say the high-unemployment economy is still the greatest factor behind the decline in traffic fatalities...

 
At 9/10/2010 11:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"The cars today have better engineering in them but I'd rather be in a '68 Impala if I was going to have an accident..."

juandos, you might want to reconsider after watching this video.

I'm not sure, but I think I see the steering wheel exiting the car through the driver side window. One can only imagine where the driver would be.

 
At 9/11/2010 6:32 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Ron H, the reason I picked a '68 Impala is that was the year GM started load channeling on their cars...

That year also there were steel cross braces in the engine well to help mitigate the problem of the engine ending up in the front seat...

Also a '68 Impala rode low (lower than the '59 in the video clip) and with a steel frame and side panels made it quite stable at speed...

Do you think pre-engineered crush panels (foamed aluminum inserts in crush panels) in the bumpers and center off sets make modern cars safer?

It sounds like a good idea but I'm not really sure...

 
At 9/11/2010 12:57 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Do you think pre-engineered crush panels (foamed aluminum inserts in crush panels) in the bumpers and center off sets make modern cars safer?

It sounds like a good idea but I'm not really sure...
"

juandos, I guess I would have to say that I do believe newer cars are safer. Those crushable items allow my body to take just a little longer to reach a full stop. I'd rather not decelerate at the same rate the front bumper does. The trick is balancing that with a strong enough cage to keep all those undesirable items, like the engine, from joining me in the front seat.

The driver, now, is a different story. I don't think drivers have become safer, and they can't easily be engineered. I think we tend to drive faster and take greater risks when we believe that various safety safety systems are in place to protect us.

 
At 9/11/2010 8:17 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Some people said that government regulations which effectively mandated smaller vehicles would lead to more highway deaths because the smaller cars offered less protection"...

Consider the following from the WSJ dated APRIL 17, 2009: The super-high efficiency minicar has become the Holy Grail for many environmentalists. But on Tuesday, a new study on minicar safety tossed some cold water on the dream. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that in a series of test crashes between minicars and midsize models, minis such as the Smart car provided significantly less protection for their passengers...

 
At 9/12/2010 1:58 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"...(IIHS) reported that in a series of test crashes between minicars and midsize models, minis such as the Smart car provided significantly less protection for their passengers..."

On occasion I see a Smart car stopped at a red light at the end of a freeway offramp. I still have a feeling of amazement when I realize that someone has actually just driven one in busy freeway traffic. I always feel an urge to congratulate them on completing their journey safely, and returning alive.

They either have much bigger cojones than I do, or they just don't understand physics.

I used to feel the same way about Volkswagen buses, where other than the negligible effect of the front sheet metal panel, the first point of impact in a collision is the driver's knees.

 
At 9/12/2010 7:55 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I used to feel the same way about Volkswagen buses, where other than the negligible effect of the front sheet metal panel, the first point of impact in a collision is the driver's knees"...

LOL!

Amen! Ron H Amen!

A scary as heck bit of automotive suicide on four wheels...

Hey Ron H, Forbes has this slideshow bit titled The Worst Cars Of All Time

Its actually rather amusing unless you were stuck driving one for awhile...

 
At 9/13/2010 6:48 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Another fine fairy tale about how the government is saving us.

 

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