Sixty years ago this week, teen idol James Dean died at the age of 24, after crashing his sports car at the intersection of California Routes 46 and 41. He was reportedly driving 85 mph; his death remains a grim reminder of how youth and reckless driving will always be a deadly combination, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
“In a general sense, U.S. highways and cars are far safer in 2015 than they were in 1955,” said Michael Barry, vice president, Media Relations, I.I.I. “Yet, only two years ago, U.S. drivers aged 20 to 24 had more motor vehicle deaths per 100,000 people than any other age group, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.”
There were 38,426 highway fatalities in the United States in 1955, according to the National Safety Council. While that number is unlikely to be exceeded in 2015, the NSC reported recently that the current rate of U.S. highway fatalities in 2015 is at a pace to make it the deadliest year since 2007.
Dean, who had just come to prominence after starring in the film adaption of East of Eden, was driving a Porsche along with a passenger near Cholame, California in San Luis Obispo County, when his vehicle collided with another car at dusk on Friday, September 30, 1955. Dean died from a broken neck and extensive internal and external injuries; his passenger and the other motorist survived.
Today, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15 to 20 year olds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
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