Information released on Monday says that in 2011, traffic fatalities on American roads were at their lowest level since safety regulators with the federal government first began tracking such things in 1949. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), preliminary data says there were 32,310 deaths caused by vehicle crashes last year, which is 1.7 percent fewer than in 2010. The final numbers will be shared later this year.
Many factors were identified in the lower number of traffic fatalities, including:
– Fewer miles driven. Americans drove 1.2 percent fewer miles in 2011 than in the year before, per the NHTSA.
– Safer vehicles. According to Rebecca Lindland, director of automotive research for IHS, Inc., higher seatbelt use and more, and better-designed airbag systems as well as vehicles that are re-designed to keep people alive in crashes are all included in this category.
Lindland also said that there would have been even fewer accident-related deaths if distracted driving hadn’t been involved.
NHTSA hasn’t yet released numbers on distracted driving fatalities from 2011, but it said that there were 3,092 people killed in crashes that were affected but such behavior, representing 9.4 percent of all fatalities that year.
So far, 37 of the 50 United States have banned any use of the keyboard (texting) on mobile phones or other devices while driving, while ten have also banned the use of handheld phones at all.
While there’s never a direct correlation in overall traffic statistics and national insurance rates, risk of a crash is always part of the algorithm used to determine auto insurance rates.