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Road Fatality Rate Continues Historic Decline
The fatal accident rate on US roads continued to hit another all-time low in the first half of 2010.

NHTSA accident poster
American roads have never been safer according to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the first half of 2010. Already in 2009, the number of people killed per 100 million vehicle miles traveled had dropped to 1.13 from 1.26 in 2008. This 5.3 percent drop in accidents already represented the lowest rate on record.

Statistics for the first half of the year are even better. Deadly collisions have dropped another 9.2 percent for an accident rate of just 1.02. In total, 1513 fewer people died on the roads by the end of June as compared to the same period last year. The safety improvement streak that has lasted unbroken for seventeen consecutive quarters. Shorter safety streaks last happened around 1981 and 1990 -- corresponding to the last major economic recessions.

Local officials frequently credit their own policies for reductions that might happen in a given city, especially in areas where red light cameras or speed cameras are used. The benefit, however, extends nationwide and throughout jurisdictions where photo enforcement is illegal. As a result of the current sluggish economic situation, vehicle travel has remained relatively stagnant, increasing only by one-tenth of a percent compared to the first half of 2009. Compared to 2005, the chance of being involved in a fatal accident has dropped a full 30 percent.

In addition to economic factors, road fatalities nationwide continue to decline as hospitals improve trauma care services and older cars on the road are replaced with newer models equipped with stability control, anti-lock brakes, crumple zones and other advanced safety features. Assuming accident trends continue, about 13,000 fewer people will die on the roads in in 2010 than perished in 2005.

A copy of the latest NHTSA fatality report is available in a 600k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9/11/2010)

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