United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that traffic deaths for 2010 in the United States hit their lowest mark in more than 60 years.
An estimated 32,788 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report. A significant 25 percent decline since 2005, when the total of traffic deaths was 43,510, and the fewest deaths since 1949 when there were far fewer drivers and before the building of interstates.
“Last year’s drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news, and it proves that we can make a difference,” the transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, said in a statement. “Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first.”
Experts point to a combination of factors for the decline; old cars are being replaced by newer models with more safety features such as air bags and antilock brakes. Highways are being built or refurbished with rumble strips and cable median barriers to separate cars from oncoming traffic. Seat belt use is up, and stricter car-seat laws have made child car seats safer than they have ever been.
In 2005, there were 1.46 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled, and last year the rate dropped to 1.09. (In 1949, by comparison, the rate was 7.13.) And last year there were fewer deaths, even as there was more driving: traffic deaths dropped an estimated 3 percent in 2010 from 2009, but officials estimated that the number of miles traveled rose by 0.7 percent.
In Region 9, which encompasses California and Arizona, the numbers dropped 10.9% over 2009 numbers. 2009 reported 3997 fatalities and 2010 estimates are 3565 total fatalities for both states which have a combined population of 43,557,442 people.