Michigan experienced a nearly 10 percent drop in traffic deaths in 2004, with 124 fewer persons dying on the state’s roadways, according to information from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC).
The number of traffic deaths fell from 1,283 in 2003 to 1,159 in 2004, the lowest figure since 1945. This drop in traffic deaths represents an economic savings of more than $133 million.
“The bottom line is that fewer citizens are dying in traffic accidents and that’s good news, ” said Governor Jennifer Granholm. “Michigan’s law enforcement family works hard everyday to protect Michigan’s families at home and on the road.”
Injuries also dropped approximately 5.5 percent, from 105,555 in 2003 to 99,680 in 2004.
CJIC estimates the fatality rate fell from 2003 at 1.31 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to 1.16 in 2004.
“While an in-depth analysis will be necessary to precisely pinpoint the reasons behind this remarkable drop in traffic deaths, it is likely this decline is at least partially linked to a dramatic increase in safety belt use,” said Col. Tadarial Sturdivant, director of the Michigan State Police. “This is also the first full year under the state’s tougher drunk driving law, which may also have contributed to this decline.”
In 2004, Michigan became only the sixth state to reach a safety belt use rate of at least 90 percent. Additionally, 2004 was also the first full year in which the legal definition of drunk driving was set at .08 blood-alcohol content. This change was effective in fall 2003.
The state likewise experienced a more than 5 percent decline in traffic deaths involving alcohol and/or drugs, falling from 442 deaths in 2003 to 418 in 2004 – representing 36.1 percent of all traffic deaths. In addition, drunk driving arrests fell slightly, from 55,728 in 2003 to 55,056 in 2004.
The crash data also shows:
Deer crashes fell more than 7 percent, from 67,760 in 2003 to 62,707 in 2004. This included three fatalities and 1,647 injuries in 2004.
The number of crashes involving young drivers (ages 16 – 20) fell slightly from 52,215 in 2003 to 50,085 in 2004.
Pedestrian crashes dropped from 2,953 in 2003 to 2,724 in 2004. The number of pedestrians killed also fell, from 169 pedestrians killed in 2003 to 141 in 2004.
A 4 percent increase was noted in motorcycle crashes, from 3,187 in 2003 to 3,321 in 2004 (79 people were killed in crashes involving motorcycles and 2,803 people were injured). The number of registered motorcycles in Michigan also continued to increase.
The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) will release a comprehensive report on traffic crashes in the fall.
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