National highway deaths are down to the lowest level in over 60 years, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2011, there were 32,367 highway deaths, decreasing 1.9 percent from 2010. Additionally, this number was the lowest since 1949.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System also reported that the number of national fatalities was the lowest ever recorded, down .01 percent from 2010. Fatalities involving passengers in SUVs, minivans, pickups and passenger cars decreased 4.6 percent. Deaths in crashes with drunk drivers took 9,878 lives as opposed to 10,136 lives in the previous year. Unfortunately, fatalities involving large trucks, bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists increased by 20 percent, 8.7 percent, 3 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.
Distraction-related accidents also increased by 1.9 percent, but officials are unsure of whether that number is due to increased reporting and awareness.
Despite Americans driving 1.2 percent fewer miles than in 2010, the NHTSA says that the change in number of deaths strongly outweighs the change in miles driven. Officials believe the change was due to better technology, public education and through taking on issues like drunk driving, distractions and other safety hazards.
We are in more difficult economic times. People have less money to spend.
Less money to spend means less places to go, which means less cars on the road, which means fewer interactions and fewer auto accidents.
How much of this is responsible for the decrease in accidents? Hard to say. But, are fewer accident happening because people are driving more safely? After bring in the legal professional for 20 years, representing accident victims, I seriously doubt that to be the case.
Whatever the reason, let’s hope the trend continues.