The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicts that the nation’s motor vehicle traffic fatalities for 2008 will have declined to a level not seen since 1961. NHTSA projects that the total number of traffic-related fatalities for the U.S. in 2008 will be 37,313 deaths — down 9.1 percent from the 2007 statistic of 41,059 fatalities. (NHTSA will report the actual numbers in August 2009.)
NHTSA attributes the decline in car crash deaths to a number of factors, including…
- improvements in motor vehicle technology
- tougher enforcement of seat belt laws
- law enforcement efforts to get repeat drunk-driving offenders off the road
- an increase in use of public transportation
- fewer people driving due to higher gas prices and the economy
Maryland Car Crash Fatalities
Maryland is among 16 states to achieve a 90% or more rate of seat-belt use along with our neighbors Delaware and District of Columbia. Michigan had the highest seat-belt use rate of 97%, while Wyoming, Massachusetts and New Hampshire had the lowest rates, with less than 70 percent of drivers in those states buckling up.
In 2007, there were 614 Maryland car crash deaths (NHTSA, Traffic Safety Facts, Maryland 2003-2007). In the new report, Maryland, DC and Delaware, which are in NHTSA region 3, are expected to see a 12% decline in fatalities in 2008 as compared to 2007 — one of the highest rates of car crash fatality decline in the country. Interestingly, the region with the highest expected decline in car crash fatalities — region 1, New England, expected to see a decline of 14% — has some of the same states with the lowest rate of seat belt use. Region 6, which includes Texas and surrounding states, is expected to have the lowest decline of just a little over 1% — but a decline in deaths nonetheless.
Of course, even one motor-vehicle related death due is too many if it’s you or someone in your family. A Maryland car accident lawyer works with bereaved families to relieve them of the burden of the insurance claims process and when called for, litigation. The new NHTSA statistics show that safety programs, law enforcement, and improvements to motor vehicle equipment and technologies do save lives. But driving defensively is always wise — it was in 1961, and it still is today in 2009.
Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2008
NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts March 2009
Traffic deaths decline as more people are buckling up
ConsumerReports.org April 6, 2009
Related Web Resource
Newest safety technology: Cars that avoid crashes
San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News March 20, 2009