Massachusetts drivers share in the good news that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on October 9, 2009: the number of traffic deaths on U.S. roads reached a record low in the first half of 2009! The numbers are down approximately 7% for the first half of the year. A report on estimated 2009 traffic fatalities can also be viewed.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System keeps statistics of highway fatalities each year. In 2008, the numbers were the lowest in over 10 years.
The reason for the decrease is not clear. Better vehicle safety equipment, better highway design, and more drunk driver education, are among the reasons cited by the National Transportation Safety Board. An insurance trade group that performs crash tests states that if vehicle had no safety equipment had been added after 1985 there would be 15% more fatalities than there are. Another possible explanation is that the total number of miles traveled was down.
On the other hand, while the trend is good over the past 18 months, there were still 16,626 deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the first six months of the year. Far too many.