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For Immediate Release,
Kathy Lane
Communications Director
(630) 775-2307

Traffic Deaths Hit Record Low, But It’s Not a Time to Become Complacent

Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council announced today that approximately 34,700 motor vehicle fatalities occurred in 2010. This marks a 3 percent decline from 2009 and the fourth consecutive year fatalities have decreased. Based on motor vehicle fatality trends of past recessions, NSC believes the present decline is partly a result of the poor economy. Fourth-quarter 2010 data reflected a slight increase in fatalities, and NSC fears as the economy continues to rebound fatalities may rise. 

“As encouraging as it is to see fatalities decreasing on our nation’s roads, the 2010 rate of decrease is less than a third of the previous year’s decrease,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We must remain vigilant in addressing roadway safety issues where the greatest impact can be made, such as distracted and teen driving. As miles traveled start to rise again from recession lows, we want to ensure the continuance of this downward trend.” 

NSC believes improved safety features in vehicles, and 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 contributed to the decrease.

In addition to devastating 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 in 2010 was $236.6 billion, a 3 percent decrease from 2009.  

Research Detail

NSC Motor Vehicle Fatality Reporting System
Each month, motor vehicle fatality data is supplied to the National Safety Council by traffic authorities in 50 states and the District of Columbia. This data is used to make current year estimates based on the latest final count from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). NSC counts total motor vehicle-related fatalities that occur within a year of the crash, consistent with data compiled from death certificates by the NCHS, and includes those occurring on public highways and private property. This differs from the methods used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA method counts traffic fatalities that occur within 30 days of a crash and only those occurring on public highways.

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

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