Econintersect: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 32,310 people died in traffic accidents in 2011. That was down 1.7% from 2010 and more than 25% from 2005. The last time the number of deaths was this low was 52 years ago, in 1949. And on a deaths-per-mile-driven basis the number is an all-time low. Record keeping began in 1921. According to an article at MSNBC the reasons for the lower death rate may be from a crackdown on drunk driving, increased use of seat belts, improved mandated safety features for cars and decreased driving per individual driver due to the economic slowdown.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said his agency is in the preliminary stages of preparing new rules to address what LaHood has described as an “epidemic” of distracted driving deaths. There is a new development close to being introduced on the U.S. highway that could reduce the number of distracted drivers: autonomous cars from Google. After extensive track and test site evaluations Google has received a license from Nevada to test three of their self-driving cars on the state’s public roadways.
According to MSN Living, the cars could be generally available in as little as 3-5 years.
Doug Short has been tracking the decline in passenger miles driven:
Click on graph for larger image.
From 2005 to 2011 miles driven has declined by about 1%, much less than the more than 25% decline in traffic deaths.
- US traffic deaths at lowest level since 1949 (Paul A. Eisenstein, MSNBC, 8 May 2012)
- Where’s My Flying Car? (Rich Maloof, MSN Living, 8 May 2012)
- Estimated Vehicle Miles Driven on All Roads (Doug Short, Advisor Perspectives.com/dshort, February 2012)