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According To The NHTSA Lower Traffic Fatalities Continues

The latest federal statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were filled with good news for drivers, one of the key findings being that highway deaths in the year 2011 hit their lowest levels in over six decades.

Roadway fatalities dropped 1.9 percent last year continuing a downward trend that has resulted in a 26 percent decrease in overall traffic deaths since 2005. This has been welcome new to traffic and safety experts. The numbers were compiled from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) system using the most recent and updated information.

The NHTSA report brought other encouraging news. The FARS numbers show that fatalities related to drunk driving dropped roughly 2.5 percent when compared to 2010 numbers. Overall, 36 states saw decreases in their traffic death numbers during the past year.

Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary said in a recently released statement “As we look to the future, it will be more important than ever to build on this progress by continuing to tackle head-on issues like seat belt use, drunk driving and driver distraction.”

While most crash numbers were good news, crashes related to distraction were not as encouraging. While the NHTSA recorded a 7 percent drop in distraction related injuries in 2011, the number of people killed in crashes blamed on distracted driving went up 1.9 percent. The NHTSA said, “This increase can be attributed in part to increased awareness and reporting”. As government and state agencies have acknowledged the dangers of distracted driving, reporting of distraction based injuries and deaths has increased.

Technology Is Helping

This is just one of many reports and studies that the NHTSA released this year which emphasized the long term declines of deaths and injuries on American highways and roads. In June, a report from the NHTSA attributed the big drop in accidents resulting in injury and fatalities to the safer design of today’s car. Advances like anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control have helped keep new vehicles on the road and under control, even under extreme conditions. Electronic stability control was found to have seriously impacted the chance of being in a rollover accident, one of the most deadly types.

Experts have been debating what the implications of lower crash rates and improved technology will have on insurance rates. Research firm Celant released a report entitled “The End of Auto Insurance: What Happens When There Are (Almost) No Accidents” this year. It looked at the latest advances in safety technology and predicted that the cost of car insurance will drop dramatically over the coming decades as accidents almost disappear.

The NHTSA recently released the latest crash and fatality figures. It found that 2011 continued the downward trend in accident and fatality rates. While most categories dropped, deaths attributed to distracted driving ticked up. Technological advances in safety features are credited for much of the decline in accident rates. 

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