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Report: highway car accident deaths at historic lows

Roads in Nashville and around the country are at the safest levels in over a half century according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. New NHTSA data shows that the rate of car accident deaths has declined to the lowest levels since 1949. The most recent statistics list the number highway deaths at 32,788 in 2010, down from 33,808 in 2009.

NHTSA officials expect crash-avoidance technology to further reduce the amount of car accident fatalities in the United States. Car crashes are still abundant however. There were 5,505,00 crashes in 2009 and car accidents are still the leading cause of death for Americans ages 3-34, Ward's Auto reports.

NHTSA officials are also concerned about the new generation of teen drivers who are growing up with mobile devices such as smart phones. The use of a mobile device to text or browse the internet while driving can cause serious car accidents and lead to severe personal industries. The NHTSA hopes that partnerships with business leaders will be the first step in solving the distracted driving dangers presented by new technology.

"We have challenged the auto industry and the cell-phone industry to work collaboratively with us to keep the driver focus on their required task - driving - and to keep them safe," one official said.

The official also noted that another challenge in decreasing the number of car accident fatalities is improving driver behavior. Most crashes occur due to bad driving behavior such as drunk driving and distracted driving so technology improvements and new laws can only have a limited effect at preventing accidents.

"We cannot legislate away risk," the official said.

Source: Ward's Auto, "NHTSA to Report Decline in U.S. Highway Fatalities," Herb Shuldiner, 5/4/11

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