Early Projections Show Decline in Traffic Fatalities for 2011

AASHTO Journal, 15 June 2012

Fewer people died in motor vehicle crashes last year than in 2010, according to preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration.

According to FHWA’s preliminary data report, there were approximately 32,310 traffic fatalities in 2011, compared to 32,885 in 2010 — a 1.7 percent drop. Traffic fatalities were down for each separate quarter of 2011, with the biggest decreases occurring during the second and third quarters (3.2 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively).

“Like all of our highway safety partners, we are thrilled at the continued decline in deaths on our nation’s roads,” said Tony Kane, director of engineering and technical services at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “But more than 32,000 people did not make it home last year. This is not just a transportation issue. This is a tragic public health epidemic that affects us all on a personal, as well as professional, level.”

The decrease in fatalities could be attributed to a number of factors. FHWA’s data shows that the total vehicle miles traveled across the country in 2011 decreased by roughly 35.7 billion miles (a 1.2 percent decrease from 2010). Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also credited enhanced safety practices, and improved automobile designs (1.usa.gov/nhtsarelease).

“Along with our partners, we will continue to strive for zero deaths on our roads — providing the safest system possible, educating people about making appropriate decisions, and enforcing and strengthening the laws to protect our safety,” Kane said.

More information on the preliminary projections for 2011 motor vehicle fatalities can be found at bit.ly/NHTSAnumbers.

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