Americans are driving more and more, with 20.5 billion additional miles driven in 2010 than in 2009. Yet even with all those extra miles driven, American roads have never been safer. There was a 3 percent decrease in total deaths in 2010, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) preliminary data shows. An estimated 32,788 deaths occurred in 2010. Since 2005, the total number of deaths has lowered 25 percent.
The NHTSA cited several reasons for the decline. National campaigns against drunk driving and distracted driving may have played a role. Since 2009, the NHTSA has modeled a campaign against distracted driving similar to other successful campaigns, such as "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" (for drunk driving) and "Click It or Ticket" (for seatbelt use). The newest campaign focuses on getting teens and other drivers to stop texting and talking on their cell phones while driving. Along with the national campaign, 33 states have enacted legislation making texting while driving illegal.
Other possible reasons for the lowered number of fatalities include improved vehicle safety measures, such as airbags, and road improvements. Barbara Harsha, the executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, believes that rumble strips, which let a vehicle know when it is about to wander off the road, and improved pavement markings are a factor, she told the Washington Post in a recent interview. She also believes that three-strand wire median barriers installed by some states are helping to cut down on cross-median crashes.
Finally, speed cameras and red-light cameras may also be cutting down on traffic violations that lead to traffic accident fatalities.
While the lowered traffic deaths are certainly good news, roads can still be a dangerous place. The NHTSA reported that drunk driving is involved in 32 percent of all traffic fatalities, meaning that someone is killed because of drunk driving every 50 minutes. According to the NHTSA's most recent data, 20 percent of injury crashes occurred because of distracted driving.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, speak to a personal injury lawyer. You may be able to receive much-needed compensation for medical bills and lost wages. In addition, you can hold accountable those drivers who are making roads unsafe for everyone.