Traffic Deaths Hit 60-Year Low

Traffic Deaths Hit 60-Year Low bb3 Dec 1, 2011

By Staff Writer State Farm™ Employee

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The last time the number of U.S. traffic deaths was this low, gas cost just 17 cents per gallon, 45-rpm records were brand new and South Pacific was making its Broadway debut. In other words, it’s been a long time.

In its April 2011 report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that the number of traffic-related fatalities in 2010 was the lowest since 1949. A variety of factors, such as increased awareness about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving, improvements in vehicle manufacturing and an increase of auto safety features, may all have contributed to the drop.

Factors Impacting Driver Safety

Programs that educate the public on the dangers of drunk or distracted driving are more prevalent today than in previous years. Campaigns like “Over the Limit. Under Arrest,” “Phone in One Hand/Ticket in the Other” and “Click It Or Ticket” have encouraged drivers to be more responsible behind the wheel.

Improved road designs and new roadway innovations are making an impact, too. For example, Safety EdgeSM, which shapes pavement edges to 30 degrees rather than a vertical drop-off, helps guide drivers who have veered off of the road to get safely back on course. “Virtual” rumble strips in some new cars help keep drivers on the correct path, alerting them when they start to move out of their lane. And improvements in the barrier systems on two-way highways help prevent cars from entering opposing traffic if they cross the median. 

By updating its rating system to be more rigorous, the NHTSA also has worked to ensure that manufacturers are producing vehicles that better align with top safety requirements. New vehicles are subjected to higher standards in crash test performance, and consumers have access to more detailed information about the test results of specific cars. In addition, the NHTSA is increasing pressure on manufacturers to quickly report safety concerns about vehicles. Learn more about safety features to consider when purchasing a new car.

Driver Precaution Is Still Key

Although these favorable reports are encouraging, the NHTSA wants drivers to remember that there are still plenty of crashes that could be prevented. No matter what protections are in place, drivers should continue to take precautions while driving and reduce potential distractions as much as possible. Winter driving conditions can pose their own particular set of driving hazards. Get tips for preparing and driving your car in winter weather.

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