Last year was one of the safest years for drivers across the country. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the number of highway fatalities in the United States decreased by 1,000 people in 2010. The number of highway deaths in 2009 was 33,808 and the estimated number of highway deaths in 2010 is 32,788. Last year the nation saw the fewest number of fatal car accidents since 1949.
Though the number of highway fatalities is at an all time low, there were still over 5 million car accidents in 2009, and car crashes are still the leading cause of death among people ages 3 to 34. The Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says the reduction in the number of highway deaths is due to a generation of safer cars on the roads.
According to the Deputy Administrator, most car accidents are caused by driver error, and driver distraction and alcohol remain top causes of driver error. Though many laws have been passed to reduce driver error, the NHTSA official says all risks involved with driving cannot be legislated away.
One of the top driving concerns for the NHTSA is the generation of young drivers who are deeply linked to their cell phones and want to be continuously connected. New communication technology like vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies may help reduce the danger of driver distraction.
Many people may not think that vehicle safety is potentially at odds with the creation of new vehicle fuel-economy standards. One way car manufacturers can improve fuel efficiency is by reducing the weight of the vehicles they produce. The NHTSA does not want to compromise vehicle safety and is in the process of conducting a study to determine the optimum reduction of vehicle weight.
Source: Wardsauto.com, “NHTSA to report decline in U.S. highway fatalities,” Herb Shuldiner, 5/4/11