American roads: safest in over 60 years

An estimated 32,310 people died last year in US motor vehicle crashes, the lowest figure since records began in 1949, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projection.
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The NHTSA's statistical projection of traffic fatalities data from 2011 represents a decline of about 1.7 per cent compared with the 32,885 deaths that occurred in 2010. Traffic fatalities in the US have been on a steady decline over the past five years decreasing by about 26 per cent from 2005 to 2011.

The reduction in total traffic fatalities could be impacted by the data from the Federal Highway Administration that shows vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2011 decreased by about 35.7 billion miles, or about 1.2 per cent. This in turn sees the projected fatality rate per 100 million VMT for 2011 decline to 1.09 fatalities per 100 million VMT - the lowest on record down – down from 1.11 in 2010.

Industry pundits continue to debate the influence of passive vehicle safety technologies and driver assist programs versus driver education and skill level on road safety.

The latest report (March 2012) into road deaths in Australia from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport states that during the 12 months ending March 2012 there were 1301 deaths on our roads - a 2.0 per cent reduction from the 12-month period ending March 2011 - while the rate of annual deaths per 100,000 population also reduced by 3.1 per cent, down to 5.7 for the 12-monthly period ending March 2012.