New York Injury Law Blog

Highway Deaths Decrease In 2011

Highway deaths dropped two percent in 2011 to their lowest level in more than 60 years, according to national numbers.

There were 32,367 people killed on U.S. roadways in 2011. This marks a 1.9 percent drop from 2010 and is the lowest level since 1949.

Despite the encouraging data, more than 1,000 motorists are killed in New York car wrecks each year. Another 10,000 or more are hospitalized for injuries.

Following is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“The latest numbers show how the tireless work of our safety agencies and partners, coupled with significant advances in technology and continued public education, can really make a difference on our roadways,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “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 Americans drove fewer miles in 2011 than in 2010, the nearly two percent drop in roadway deaths significantly outpaced the corresponding 1.2 percent decrease in vehicle miles traveled.

Some other good news: The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows that 2011 also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles, down from 1.11 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010.

Other key accident fatality statistics:

  • Motor vehicle wrecks claim more than 30,000 lives each year.
  • Fatalities declined by 4.6 percent for occupants of passenger cars and light trucks (including SUVs, minivans and pickups).
  • Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 2.5 percent in 2011, taking 9,878 lives compared to 10,136 in 2010.
  • Fatalities increased among large truck occupants (20 percent), bicyclists (8.7 percent), pedestrians (3.0 percent).
  • The number of people killed riding motorcycles increased 2.1 percent.
  • The number of people killed in distracted driving crashes rose to 3,331 in 2011 from 3,267 in 2010, an increase of 1.9 percent. NHTSA believes this increase can be attributed in part to increased awareness and reporting.

Thirty-six states experienced reductions in overall traffic fatalities, led by Connecticut (100 fewer fatalities), North Carolina (93 fewer), Tennessee (86 fewer), Ohio (64 fewer) and Michigan (53 fewer).

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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