3,000 Lives Saved – Traffic Deaths Decrease in 2008

While we may not be happy about the hit to our wallets, the good news about higher gas prices is, by choosing to take alternate modes of transportation thereby reducing the numbers of drivers on the road has contributed to a dramatic decrease in the number of accidents in 2008 through October. This downward trend is expected to continue through the end of the year.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials say advancements in safety technology that prevents rollovers, an increase in seatbelt usage, major transportation safety program reforms and more drunk driving awareness campaigns, in addition to fewer drivers, has contributed to an almost 10 percent drop in fatalities. This is the lowest rate since the NHTSA began tracking highway auto fatalities since 1966.

At its peak, there were 54,589 people who died in auto accidents in 1972. Fortunately those numbers have been slowly declining over the past twenty years, with the numbers leveling off and hovering at the 40,000 mark for the past couple of years. 2007 also showed a dramatic drop in deaths on the highways across the United States. Let’s hope the trend continues for 2009.

Early estimates show that 31,110 people died on the nation’s roads from January through October, compared to 34,502 in 2007 during that same 10-month time period. In addition, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicles miles traveled for the first nine months of 2008 is 1.28, compared to 1.37 for 2007.

“For the second year in a row we are seeing historic lows in deaths on our nation’s roads,” Secretary Peters said. “While we are encouraged by these declines, our work is not nearly complete in making our safe transportation network even safer.”

So, remember the 3,000 lives that were saved this year are not just a statistic…they are someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandparent, best friend or neighbor.