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New England saw over 18% more fatalities in 2010 than 2009  (Source: Detroit News)
Less deaths thanks to safer cars and other factors

Despite all the warnings and talk about traffic fatalities related to distracted driving and texting while driving, many continue these unsafe activities. Despite the continued ignoring of law in many states by many drivers, the death rate from traffic fatalities has declined in 2010.

What's impressive about the decline in deaths from traffic accidents in 2010 is that it happened despite the fact that more driver miles were reported in 2010. This is the fifth straight year that a reduction in fatalities on the nation's highways has been recorded. In 2010, the number of deaths in on the roads in America dropped to 32,788. That is the lowest number since 1949 according to federal regulators.

Fatalities also declined 3.2% compared to the number from 2009. The highway miles increased in 2010 to about 20.5 billion miles more than in 2009.

However, there are three areas in the U.S that saw an increase in traffic fatalities in 2010. The areas include New England and the Midwest with fatalities up 18.9% in New England and 3.9% in the Midwest. The figures are based on projections with final numbers to be released this summer.

The 2010 fatality rate is expected to be 1.09 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled; the rate was 1.13 per 100 million miles in 2009.

"Last year's drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news and it proves that we can make a difference," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first."

LaHood is one of the driving forces behind the bans on texting while driving and the push to hands free technology. However, LaHood isn't opposed to seeking bans on hands free tech as well if it is found to contribute to accidents on the nation's roads. The reduced deaths are attributed to better policing of drunk drivers and safer cars among other things.

David Strickland from the NHTSA said, "NHTSA will continue pressing forward on all of our safety initiatives to make sure our roads are as safe [as possible]."

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RE: collision numbers?
By therealnickdanger on 4/1/2011 1:45:10 PM , Rating: 3
Why is the choice clear?

It's not clear to you because you don't have all the facts. Crashes carry a societal cost which factors in "wasted hours" as you put it such as emergency services, funeral costs, car repairs, roadway repairs/maintenance, lifetime earnings, hospitalization, etc. These range from ~$12,000 for a property damage crash (no injuries) all the way up to ~$7.1 million for a fatal crash. These are called "crash costs". These crash costs dictate funding for projects. It's a balance between reducing fatal and serious crashes while reducing the cost of projects and being accountable with taxpayer dollars.

Roads are meant to be efficient methods of transportation first with safety concerns being a secondary goal.

I can tell you from my 10 years of DOT experience that that is not true. From the ground up, roadways are built according to standards that hinge on safety.

RE: collision numbers?
By Solandri on 4/1/2011 2:05:03 PM , Rating: 2
Accident rates are difficult to track because not all accidents get reported. If you get into a minor fender bender with your neighbor which just scuffs your bumper, you're probably not going to call your insurance company about it.

Fatalities are nearly always reported, which makes it a pretty reliable comprehensive stat. Injuries requiring hospitalization is also another stat that NHTSA tracks.

The auto insurance industry probably has some data on financial losses from accidents, but I wasn't able to find it in a quick search of their site.

I can tell you from my 10 years of DOT experience that that is not true. From the ground up, roadways are built according to standards that hinge on safety.

I can attest to this. I've driven in many other countries, and the roads in Europe and the US/Canada are simply better designed from a safety standpoint. Little things you won't notice until they're gone, like how the highway is tilted just right on a curve, or how a road is angled against a hill to maximize visibility as you're approaching the peak, or how a road is curved in such a way that a vehicle losing brakes going downhill is directed away from oncoming traffic.

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