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While new vehicles continue to sprout ever-increasing numbers of safety features, traffic fatalities still hit a 15-year high in 2005, notching 43,200 fatalities according to a recent release by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). This represents an increase of 1.2 percent over 2004, while miles traveled only increased by 0.03% to a jaw-dropping 2.964 trillion. The projected death rate is still only 1.46 per 100 million miles traveled, which is only a slight increase from the record low of 1.44 in 2004 (which suggests that most means that motorists should spend less time worrying about automotive safety and put more effort into improving their health).

Deaths in passenger cars fell by approximately 2 percent, while SUVs and light trucks saw a 4 percent increase in body count. The motorcycle death toll jumped by 7.7 percent last year and has now doubled in less than a decade. Tellingly, two-wheelers now account for nearly 10 percent of all traffic deaths. 

Seatbelts are now used by over 80 percent of drivers, but fully 55 percent of those who died in a car crash were not using one.

Related: Distracted driving may account for most accidents

[Source: The Detroit News]


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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Your related entry almost says it all. Distractions. There are more and more these days and drivers are getting worse and worse. Today's 38-year-old housewife is not prepared to do her makeup, talk on the phone, and pilot her 5,000 lb SUV, weaving through traffic at unsafe speeds.
      • 9 Years Ago
      To sum it up in one line:

      " Lack of defensive driving "

      Or add up:
      tailgating / not keeping safe distance
      aggressive driving (the lane switchers to get one or two cars ahead)
      slower traffic not keeping right
      passing on the right (highly illegal in many countries)
      inexperienced drivers (too young)
      lack of using turn signals (intersections, lane changes, ...)
      lack of obeying stop, yield & traffic signals ( I see this every day more than once in a little town of 25000 people)
      lack of drivers education and training
      overestimating your cars limitations
      driving while tired / sleepy
      driver distractions (cellphone, passengers, tv/video/game in car ...)
      driving handsfree as in one hand on your cellphone while the other is holding your cigarette!
      driving while applying makeup
      un(der)-serviced car (worn brakes, shocks, ... aged lights you can barely see from a distance

      Most accidents have more than one of these contributing factors.

      One I still don't understand in the US regulations: No mandatory rear fog light.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Hmm...SUVs, cyclists, not wearing seatbelts...one less of those fools suits me just fine.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Instead of passing the buck on the car companies to make their car safer we should concentrate on the driver. Like making it a little harder to get a drivers license for instance and making driving a required course in high school.

      In my state it's a joke, you could be blind, 2 feet tall, and people with not enough inelegance to tie your shoe getting a driver licenses. Then you have the 15 year old to 16-year-old drivers on the road. In this state you can drive at 15 during the day.
      • 9 Years Ago
      13. Sure, it's a truck and trucks don't have the same roof standards as cars. When you dump 3+ tons (probaby 4 that looks like an Excursion) on to one corner of a roof in a roll over it's gonna crush. Better to dive a car that won't roll over in the fist place. Also when you get in a car, drive. That means pay attention to what's going on around you, keep a safe distance, stay off the ^%$%^$&^$@@ phone etc.

      Signed Frusterated Chicago driver!
      • 9 Years Ago
      Distractions are the major factor. High powered audio systems, cell phones, TVs, etc. Cars, SUVs and Trucks have been safe for a long time. The number of entertainment and communications devices has been significantly increasing. No wonder distractions are up.

      In the following case no amount of additional safty features would have mattered.

      Six Texas workers die in SUV-train collision

      LAMAR - Six migrant workers from Texas were killed and a 15-year-old boy was clinging to life Thursday after the SUV driven by the teen was struck by a fast-moving freight train in southeastern Colorado near the Kansas border. . .

      . . . "When we got here, the vehicle still had the music blaring full blast," said Lopez. "They wouldn't have heard the train as loud as the music was going." . . .
      • 9 Years Ago
      It's fine when somebody wants to feel more protected and does something about it, but it's not when it also puts others in danger in doing so. There are way too many people buying SUVs, who really don't need them.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Let's see...maybe because SUVs roll over and their drivers cannot see the motorcycle to their right?

      Even a mild uptick like this could lead to new legislation. Making side and rear obstacle detection mandatory on vehicles with beltlines over X inches would be a good start. When my Mazda was a month old a woman backed up into me in the CostCo parking lot because she couldn't see out the back of her Lexus RX 300.
      • 9 Years Ago
      In my area, we've had a lot of fatal crashes involving teens driving either high-powered or high-profile vehicles.

      Driver's ed uses low-powered, low-profile econoboxes, yet parents allow Junior and his 5 buddies to bomb around in Mom's 250 hp. Solara, or they let him buy a Jeep with
      tarp doors with his McD's check.

      Either teens should have horsepower-restricted and ride-height-restricted licenses that can only be upgraded via completion of specialized driver's ed courses using high-profile and/or high-powered vehicles or give every kid training on what his/her idiot parents are most likely to let them drive.
      • 9 Years Ago
      It's not just one year's worth of data. Note the "fifteen-year high." For decades fatalities steadily dropped. The problem this year isn't so much that they went up a very slight amount, but that despite all of the safety equipment added in recent years fatalities/mile driven have pretty much plateaued.

      43,200 people is a large amount of people. It's over 15 times as many as were lost in the September 11 attack. Put another way, pretty much any given month as many people die in traffic accidents as were lost in September 11.

      Ditto for Iraq. If we lost 43,200 soldiers in Iraq, we'd have huge demonstrations. But lose them in traffic accidents, and it's just "well, this happens every year."
      • 9 Years Ago
      on thetruthaboutcars there's a review of the Mazda MX-5 Miata that said "the best way to survive an accident is not to have one" suggesting that we'd be better off with light, super nimble cars with excellent brakes, suspensions, and steering. I tend to agree. Most vehicles these days are big, dumb, slow, and isolate you from your surroundings, making you unaware of, or indefferent to what you're about to hit. If people's idea of safety is to make sure they are driving the most vault-like tank so they survive WHEN they hit something, well I think we need to reconsider our thinking here. Drive something engaging, with road feel, visiblity, handling, and big brakes, learn how to drive, and you'll be less likely to be a victim.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Cell phones, loud music, TV's, and busy lifestyles. That's why we are killing each other on our streets. I live in Dallas where it's like some sort of Roller Derby on the streets. I have a 16 year old and I am horrified that he is about to start driving.
      I agree that it's a law enforcement issue in that they have to slow people down and be agrresive with the aggressive drivers who act like they are what I like to call "the chosen one" who is such a good driver that they can never have an accident.
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