Itasca, IL – The United States is on track to achieve its lowest annual rate of traffic deaths ever recorded. The National Safety Council reports a 10 percent decrease in motor vehicle deaths during the first 10 months of 2009. An estimated 29,450 motor vehicle deaths occurred from January through October 2009. The annual population death rate from motor vehicle crashes also is down 10 percent at 11.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
As the struggling economy continues to decrease the number of vehicle miles traveled, NSC projects the total vehicle miles traveled in 2009 will be comparable to the relatively low miles traveled last year. With vehicle mileage unchanged, the 10 percent decrease in motor vehicle deaths results in an 8 percent reduction in the annual mileage death rate, down to 1.2 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
The continued decrease in motor vehicle fatality rates is likely the result of the poor economy. Improved safety features in vehicles, greater visibility and enforcement of traffic safety laws – including those related to child passengers, safety belt use, distracted driving, impaired driving, and teen driving – also contribute to the decrease.
In addition to human loss, motor vehicle crashes present a significant national cost in lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage. The estimated cost of motor vehicle deaths, injuries and property damage through October 2009 was $175.5 billion, an 8 percent decrease from 2008.
The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) saves lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy.