Americans may have driven fewer overall miles in 2011 than they did in 2010, but the rate at which traffic fatalities occurred relative to miles driven dropped even more. At least that’s what recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates, and it’s good news for traffic safety advocates nationwide.
According to an announcement from the NHTSA last week, deaths from motor vehicle accidents declined nearly two percent in 2011 from the year before. The data shows that the total number of fatalities last year fell to 32,367, a 1.9 percent decrease from the year before.
The trend isn’t anything of an anomaly, as the number of fatalities from crashes in the U.S. has been declining consistently over the years, and the 2011 numbers make it a 26 percent total decline since 2005.
But the news just continues to get better for traffic safety advocates in America. Many people say that the decline in fatalities is due to the fact that Americans drove fewer overall miles in 2011 because of high gas prices and the struggling economy. But according to the NHTSA’s analysis, the rate of fatalities per vehicle miles driven also declined; the rate was 1.10 in 2011, down from 1.11 in 2010.
Fatalities stemming from DUI-related accidents also declined significantly last year, with the number of fatalities in alcohol-related crashes dropping from 10,136 in 2010 to 9,878 in 2011. This represented a 2.5 percent total decline, and a recent statement from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says this was the first time that number was below 10,000 since the NHTSA began recording data.
The NHTSA’s report also shows that there is more to be done in regard to distracted driving behavior and habits in our country, as there were actually rises in fatalities related to distraction-affected car accidents. There was a 1.9 percent increase in distracted driving-related fatalities in 2011, but a 7 percent decline in injuries.