Study: 40 Years of Auto Safety Efforts Have Saved Lives, Prevented Injuries

September 3, 2009

Auto and traffic safety efforts over the past 40 years have significantly reduced the number of accident-related injuries and fatalities, according to an analysis of government data.

The data shows a continuing drop in motor vehicle fatality rates over the 40-year period from 1968 to 2008, as well as a decline in the motor vehicle traffic injury rate despite an increase in vehicle miles traveled, according to the analysis by the American Insurance Association (AIA) .

For example, Americans drove close to one trillion miles in 1968, compared to nearly 3 trillion in 2008. Over those four decades, the motor vehicle traffic fatality rate dropped from 5.19 deaths per-100 million vehicles miles traveled in 1968 to a record-low 1.27 deaths per-100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2008.

Additionally, over the past 20 years the injury rate has dropped from 169 injuries per-100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1988 to 80 injuries per-100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2008.

The researchers said that by examining the underlying rates rather than simply looking at the total number of deaths and injuries, the statistics take into account any fluctuations in vehicle miles traveled and show that improved safety measures are the leading cause for the pronounced reduction in fatalities and injuries.

AIA’s analysis goes a step further to highlight how the safety-promoting efforts of the insurance industry and other groups have made a critical difference. By looking at the current year vehicle miles traveled and using the fatality rate of historical years, AIA has estimated the amount of people that would have been killed or injured had there been no improvements at all in vehicle and traffic safety.

Source: American Insurance Association

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