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Fatal Accident Totals Reach All Time Lowest Level

Fatal Accident Totals Reach All Time Lowest Level

Fatal Accident Totals Reach All Time Lowest Level

According to data analysis from 2011 crash statistics collected by the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the national fatal accident rate has reached the lowest level in more than 60 years. The total number of fatalities reported throughout the year dropped to 32,397, a 1.9% decrease from 2010, and the lowest total since 1949. The decrease continues a promising trend that has been occurring over the last several years, as overall accident fatalities have dropped by more than 26% since 2005.

This continued decrease comes as a result of a greater focus on road safety through organizations like the NHTSA and IHS, along with awareness campaigns and greater safety advancements from auto makers. “The latest numbers show how the tireless work of our safety agencies and partners, coupled with significant advances in technology and continued public education, can really make a difference on our roadways,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “As we look to the future, it will be more important than ever to build on this progress by continuing to tackle head-on issues like seat belt use, drunk driving, and driver distraction.”

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland added that “In the past several decades, we’ve seen remarkable improvements in both the way motorists behave on our roadways and in the safety of the vehicles they drive, and we’re confident that NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings Program and nationwide collaborations like ‘Click It or Ticket’ and ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ have played a key role in making our roads safer. Even as we celebrate the progress we’ve made in recent years, we must remain focused on addressing the safety issues that are continuing to claim more than 30,000 lives each year.”

Though drivers covered fewer miles in 2011 than the year before, the decrease in travel distance (1.2 percent) could not keep pace with the overall drop in fatalities. Supplemental analysis from the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, or FARS, showed that the accident fatality rate for the year was just 1.1 deaths per 100 million vehicles miles driven, the lowest total ever, and down from 1.11 per 100 million in 2010. 36 states saw fewer traffic fatalities than in 2010, with Connecticut leading the way with 100 fewer deaths. Next was North Carolina with 93 fewer, followed by Tennessee (86), Ohio (64), and Michigan (53).

Fatalities for occupants of passenger cars and light trucks (including SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks) dropped a noticeable 4.6%, and deaths resulting from accidents involving drunk drivers dropped 2.5% as well. One mark of concern came from the sharp increase in fatalities involving large truck occupants (20%), along with an increase in fatalities with bicyclists (8.7%), pedestrians (3.0%), and motorcyclists (2.1%). To better understand the rise in large truck deaths, the NHTSA has begun to work with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in hopes to find problem areas that can be correctly to help counteract this spot of negativity amidst such encouraging results.

Another statistic that saw an increase over 2010 was fatalities involving distracted drivers, which rose by almost 2 percent. The NHTSA believes that this increase does not necessarily equate to a greater number of accidents, and rather an increased level of awareness and better reporting are revealing more accurate totals. Despite the apparent increase in fatalities, the number of injuries inflicted in distracted driving accidents dropped significantly, more than 7%.

As law makers and safety organizations continue to draw attention to some of the biggest dangers facing drivers today, impaired, drowsy, and distracted driving, and as auto makers continue to develop state of the art accident avoidance technologies, there is hope that these historic accident lows will only continue to drop. Drivers must also play their part, however, as road safety ultimately lies with the people behind the wheel, and the decisions that they make. This promising decline in accident fatalities will only persist if the rules of the road are obeyed, focus is kept on the road ahead, and distractions are avoided.