Even accounting for fewer miles being driven (as a result of the recession) the rate of traffic deaths has plummeted. When measured as a ratio to miles driven, the rate last year was 1.09 deaths per 100 million miles driven. In 2005 the rate was 1.46 per 100 million miles and in 1949 the rate 7.13 per 100 million miles.
Officials attribute the drop in rate to various reasons, including improved safety technology; the increased use of seat belts and child safety seats; and improved highway safety measures (such as rumble strips and median separators). Still, it is apparent that there is still room for improvement. The United States has not improved as much as many other western nations ; the northeast region of the United States has seen an increase and Pennsylvania in particular saw an increase in traffic fatalities of 5.4% last year.
An estimated 32,788 people were killed last year in traffic accidents. Ray Lahood , Transportation Secretary, noted, “Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first.”
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