• Feb 5th 2009 at 10:57AM
  • 19
According to an annual report published by the National Safety Council, there were 39,800 deaths last year related to motor vehicles in 2008. That's an 8% improvement over the previous year, and it's not entirely due to fewer miles driven, as the ratio of deaths per vehicle miles driven has also dropped.

A trifecta of factors have conspired to cut traffic fatalities in 2008 to these record low levels. First, our vehicles themselves are getting safer, as proven each year by the number of new vehicles that ace NHTSA and IIHS crash testing. Other likely contributing factors are public education and the visible enforcement of safety laws.

Fewer deaths also means less money paid for things like lost wages, medical expenses and property damage. Not as important as fatalities to be sure, but good news nonetheless. Click on the jump for the NSC's press release.

[Source: National Safety Council]


2008 Traffic Deaths Hit Record Low, Says National Safety Council

Factors include safer vehicles, public education, law enforcement

ITASCA, Ill., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Safety Council announced today that motor vehicle deaths in 2008 achieved the lowest rate since the NSC began publishing its annual Injury Facts statistical report in the 1920s. The estimated annual death rate from motor vehicle-related crashes in 2008 was 13 deaths per 100,000 people, a 9 percent decrease from 2007, according to NSC data. The estimated annual mileage death rate for 2008 was 1.38 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 4 percent decrease from 2007.

"This is outstanding news for our nation and the people whose lives have been saved by changes in our nation's driving culture over the past several years," said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the NSC. "While a number of factors have helped lower the rate, it is our experience that public education coupled with visible enforcement of safety laws can be one of the most effective ways to change behaviors and save lives."

Also contributing to the lower rate are improved vehicle safety features and greater visibility and enforcement of important traffic safety laws, including laws related to seat belt use, child passengers, impaired driving and teen driving.

The estimated cost of crash-related deaths, injuries and property damage also decreased. The 2008 total, $237.2 billion, is 8 percent lower than the total cost in 2007. Expenses include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs, and property damage.

NSC recorded 39,800 motor vehicle-related deaths in 2008, down 8 percent from 2007. NSC's data-gathering method differs slightly from that of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NSC researchers also clarified that while higher gas prices and other factors contributed to fewer miles driven in 2008, and to the decrease in the number of people killed, the lower motor vehicle death rate demonstrates real reductions attributable to factors other than fewer miles driven.

The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes, communities and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I can just imagine the reaction to this from House Speaker Pelosi who has come out for reducing births as a means of dealing with our economic "crisis".
      Obviously if more of us can find ways to die on the nation's highways the quicker we can get out of our current economic "crisis".
      • 6 Years Ago
      So basically driving less, causes less accidents... wow, what a news-flash!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yet government agencies push more and more for even higher safety standards. When will it all end? When helf a car's value comes from installed safety equipment?
        • 6 Years Ago

        a) less people who die and are crippled is an intrinsically good thing. Take it from someone who lives with a young woman who will never walk again.

        b) there is more than one insurance company, so their profits are limited by competition. Try shopping around.

        c) profitable companies is not a bad thing. Owners and employees are both interested in making money and job security.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It`s all to line the pockets of insurance companies. Less people who die or get crippling injuries = more money for insurance companies because they don`t have to shell out cash like before stringent safety standards. It is always about the money.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oops. Last second change after I clicked the Add Comment button.
      • 6 Years Ago
      See? All those red light and speed cameras ARE doing their job! That must be it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "there were 39,800 deaths last year related to motor vehicles in 2008."-------------Is that what qualifies as a success these days?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes, when compared to the numbers in previous years. Success is not a good word though , improvement is a better one. And any improvement should be celebrated, just like an improvement in manufacturer reliability. But it's a never ending quest, you can't be too reliable and you can't be too safe, although you can reach a point of diminishing returns.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yet government agencies push more and more for even higher safety standards. When will it all end? When half a car's value comes from installed safety equipment?
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Gary: This argument seems pretty hypocritical to me. First, you accept that vehicles have gotten much safer (which wouldn't have happened if the government didn't mandate it). Then you criticize the government for raising the bar on safety.

        50 thousand people is still a lot of people.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Remember also, deaths of stupid drivers have contributed to reducing many more deaths. =]
        • 6 Years Ago
        Doubtful. The median age of light trucks in the US fleet is close to 8 years. Cars are over 9 years.

        That's too many already on the road for one bad sales year to make a statistically significant dent in the ratio of large vehicles to small ones.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Maybe there is a connection between low income and poor driving. When gas prices skyrocketed, those without the $$ to drive stopped.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You nailed it. Young people have the least disposable income, young men are far and away the most dangerous drivers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What about the number of miles driven? Is the decline still noticeable when that is taken into effect? Isn't the real measure accidents per passenger-miles?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Until driver training and testing improves, this number will never fall to a reasonable level.

      Of course, this is America. Rather than make people learn to drive, we'll just automate the car so they no longer have to--that's what we're going for. Automatic radar-guided cruise control, lane-departure prevention systems, self-parking, 360-degree cameras, traction and stability control, all designed to prevent the driver from actually having to drive the car. GPS navigation prevents drivers from having to know where they're going. Multitudes of airbags and chassis reinforcements prevent most of the worst consequences from all but the most serious accidents. Near-total lack of enforcement of existing driving laws means no consequences for breaking the rules. So we spend billions and billions each year making cars these impenetrable cocoons, invincible safety cells where nothing bad can ever happen.

      Or we can force people to drive better in the first place. We as a nation are more concerned with cupholders than car control. As long as that attitude remains, the roads will never be "safe", no matter how good the cars get.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Fatal crashes aren't caused by lack of ability, they're caused by lack of judgement.

        Unskilled drivers dent up other cars parking and changing lanes. They very rarely kill, because a modern car with your seatbelt on is a very safe place to be.

        The deaths come from people actively choosing to drive unsafely. No amount of training or testing with a police officer riding shotgun is going to make 25 year old street racers safe. Ditto drunks blowing stop signs and red lights. Most importantly of all, ditto x 10 people who don't wear their seatbelts.

      • 6 Years Ago
      It's sad that almost half the deaths are coming from people not wearing seatbelts. Hoestly how hard would it be to make it so you couldn't drive the car without a seatbelt? Considering it'd maybe be a few pressure sensors in the seats and some relays this would probably add 15,000 lives every year.

      Maybe I'm oversimplifying but if anyone's an EE you have to admit this isn't an unsolvable problem.

      Of course it would be government mandated as no one wants to give up on stupid customers.. who else is going to buy all that headlight fluid.

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