Another new study shows that fatal car crashes have declined by 22 percent between the years 2005 through 2008. In 2005, there were 43,510 deaths on the nation’s highways and roads. In 2009 the number was 33,963. If you think that is a significant decline, you would be right. In fact, it is the fastest rate of decline in peace time since automobiles first started to appear en mass in 1913. However, fatal accidents as a result of a distracted driver rose 42 percent from 2005 through 2008. Still, these fatalities accounted for only 7 percent of the total fatal accidents in 2008.
Obviously everyone is pleased. However, many experts are scratching their heads and wondering why there has been such a dramatic drop in deaths during that four year period. Many have their theories. Some say it is due to safety technologies. Some say that drivers are driving more responsibly. Some say it is the new programs in the states that ease teenagers into driving. And some say it is because of a slumping economy. Most say it is a combination of all of these.
Reducing the number of deaths due to inattentive or distracted drivers has become a cause celebre for Ray LaHood, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. He has led a national campaign against distracted driving. Moreover, states have passed tougher laws limiting texting and the use of mobile phones while driving. As a result of this, the Department of Transportation says that the rate of fatalities caused by distracted drivers leveled off in 2009.
The Department of Transportation has also tried to attack the issue of drunk driving as well as promote the use of seatbelts and new vehicle safety technology. The Department has launched a new program called “No Refusal” which suggests that local police obtain warrants from judges immediately upon coming across a possible drunk driver so that they can immediately gather evidence to prosecute DUI cases. Many experts believe that the issue of drunk driving is a major contributor to deaths on our highways. Statistics show that out of a total of 34,017 total accidents in 2008 about 62 percent were single vehicle crashes which suggests the involvement of a drunk driver. These single vehicle accident deaths declined 9 percent between 2005 and 2008
The statistics also show that fatal accidents during rush hours declined dramatically. Reports say that 3,236 deaths occurred nationwide during morning rush hour (6 a.m. to 9 a.m.) in 2008. That’s down 16.7 percent when compared to 2005. Deaths during the evening rush hour dropped about 18 percent. Statistics show that the so-called “deadliest” hours on the road are between 6 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. There were 5,342 fatal crashes during those hours in 2008. Yet that number is 13.1 percent less than 2005 figures.