Monday, August 01, 2005

Record Low Highway Fatality Rate

DOT Announces Record Low Highway Fatality Rate in 2004 in the United States.

You might think the emphasis would be that "42,636 people died on the nation's highways in 2004." But, if so, you would be wrong. That number means an average of 116 people die each and every day all year long.

The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was 1.46 in 2004, down from 1.48 in 2003. The fatality rate has been steadily improving since 1966 when 50,894 people died and the rate was 5.5.

The death rate per VMT has decreased to 26.5% of the rate in 1966 yet deaths have decreased very little - due to the huge increase in VMT. I would think the goal is to decrease the number of deaths. Yes decreasing the dealth rate per VMT seems like a wise course of action but it hardly seems sufficient. We still have 116 people dying each and every day and we tout that as a "record low." It seems to me we may have become a bit complacent when so many deaths are not greeted with a determination that such a high number of deaths was seen as something terribly wrong, and something that needed to be fixed.

In 2004, 55 percent (down from 56 percent in 2003) of those killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing safety belts. This underscores the value of the need for states to adopt primary safety belt laws.

Hopefully they have some more data than this (which I am sure they do) since this doesn't really have enough detail to reach the conslution. What percentage of those in the acidents had on safety belts (was their survival rate higher than those without?). And doe sthe law increase the use of safety belts? I could also imagine those wearing safety belts are more concerned with safety and therefore less likely to crash in the first place (though they may not be able to avoid someone drunk person, some person talking on a cell phone... who crashes into them).

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