Friday, April 01, 2011

U.S. Traffic Deaths Lowest Since 1949


WASHINGTON -- "Americans spend more time behind the wheel of their cars than they ever have, but deaths from traffic accidents fell last year to levels not seen in more than 60 years, according to new information released Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The NHTSA estimated that 32,788 people died in accidents in the US, down by three percent from 2009 and hitting the lowest level since 1949 (see top chart). The agency estimated that Americans drove three trillion miles in 2010, up by more than 21 billion from 2009. Yet, the death rate per 100 million miles traveled dropped to 1.09 in 2010, down 25 percent from 2005 (see bottom chart)."

20 Comments:

At 4/01/2011 1:31 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Given the extraordinary costs put into vehicles to achieve this, we should expect nothing less.

 
At 4/01/2011 1:59 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

My environmental friends think autos don't pay their full costs, and we should shift to some kind of mileage tax.

This would reduce miles driven, and therefore reduce traffic deaths even more, they argue.

 
At 4/01/2011 2:15 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

They're just trying to replace the lost gasoline tax revenue from vehicles with higher MPG.

 
At 4/01/2011 2:15 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Please correct me if I'm missing something, but even more extraordinary is factoring in the multi-million MORE drivers on the road now compared to 1949. Good find, Mark.

 
At 4/01/2011 5:26 PM, Blogger Dr. T said...

Four reasons for recent drops in deaths per million miles drive:

1. Many people drive bigger vehicles such as SUVs.

2. More safety features: side air bags, antilock brakes, traction control, all wheel drive, etc.

3. The average age of the population is rising, and more experienced drivers are less likely to have accidents.

4. More teens and young adults (the groups with highest rates of vehicle deaths) are in college than ever before. College students drive less than others of the same age.

Factor #1 is changing with more people buying smaller cars. (When a Chevy Volt collides with a Chevy Suburban, the Volt riders are toast.) The downward trend in death rates could become an upward trend if small car sales keep increasing.

 
At 4/01/2011 6:14 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Yeah, well just wait unit my wife gets her drivers' license back. These figures could change in a hurry.

BTW, the number of Americans killed every year in auto accidents is 10 times the number terrorists killed in their best year ever, 2001.

 
At 4/01/2011 6:15 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Dr.T, besides #2, I don't think your other factors are very significant. Of course #2 is obvious. #1 is not necessarily true, since more SUVs and such vehicles also means more SUV on SUV crashes. Plus, its not a given than an SUV will cause greater fatalities on smaller cars, or that most fatalities are the result of car on car crashes. #3 and 4 are also unlikely to be true. Far more teens drive today than before, and there's no reason to believe college students drive less than their counterparts. Most likely, people are getting accustomed to regular driving at much earlier ages than before, and therefore the population is becoming better drivers overall.

Hydra, tell your environmental friends how they feel about bicycles paying per mile of road usage as well.

 
At 4/01/2011 6:17 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"BTW, the number of Americans killed every year in auto accidents is 10 times the number terrorists killed in their best year ever, 2001."

Cars also kill 1,000 times more than Ted Bundy killed. Guess Ted wasn't such a bad guy after all.

 
At 4/01/2011 7:00 PM, Blogger NormanB said...

These rates mean the a person in the US has a 1 in 109 chance of dying in a car accident while driving 15,000 miles per year for 60 years. Still too high.

 
At 4/01/2011 8:07 PM, Blogger Rich B said...

Norman B

I guess you are walking, eh?

 
At 4/01/2011 8:32 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Traffic deaths may include passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, etc.

Anyway, driving is dangerous, and bad drivers often get good drivers killed or in trouble with the police.

 
At 4/01/2011 8:35 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

Dr.T - " The downward trend in death rates could become an upward trend if small car sales keep increasing."

Right on the money.

"The National Academy of Sciences, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Congressional Budget Office and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have separately concluded in multiple studies dating back about 20 years that fuel-economy standards force automakers to build more small cars, which has led to thousands more deaths in crashes annually."

USA Today

 
At 4/01/2011 10:20 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Rufus is right of course. Environs hate cars but they love the taxes they generate, especially when used for transit.

In DC metro depends on autos. It is the largest provider of parking spaces in the city.

Drivers in sub vs sub crashes fare better than similar crashes between small cars.

I'm guessing the most common accident is the rear ended. If you hit something that is stationary, doesn't matter quite so much what it is. Course, rear end a smart car and it probably goes airborne.

 
At 4/01/2011 10:22 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

The multi million more drivers means more congestion and lower speeds.

 
At 4/02/2011 5:38 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hmmm, anyone know what the cost per individual vehicle is to take
Darwinism out of driving?

 
At 4/02/2011 6:35 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Hmmm, anyone know what the cost per individual vehicle is to take
Darwinism out of driving?


Juandos, I don't know, But If Obama is re- elected in 2012, NHTSA may attempt to find the number of licks in that tootsie roll...

 
At 4/02/2011 11:08 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

My environmental friends think autos don't pay their full costs, and we should shift to some kind of mileage tax.

They are lefties who have no knowledge of economics or ethics so it is better that they are ignored. Do them a favour and buy them a copy of Economics in One Lesson and hope that they read it.

 
At 4/03/2011 5:41 PM, Blogger pkd said...

Doesn't it owe something to government-mandated (yes! I said it!) safety laws.

 
At 4/05/2011 1:21 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Doesn't it owe something to government-mandated (yes! I said it!) safety laws.

Not at all. Look at the trends prior to the government getting involved and you will see improvement in safety at a rate that was not exceeded when governments started to pass safety laws.

 
At 4/05/2011 1:23 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Sorry, I forgot to include a reference. Here you go. Where did the government laws make a difference?

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/281/22/2080/embed/graphic-1.gif

 

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