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Highway Deaths Drop to 62-Year-Low

Seatbelts, more advanced technology -- and improved emergency care all contributed.

by on Dec.10, 2012

Highway fatalities continued declining - and improved emergency care has clearly played a factor.

Traffic fatalities fell to their lowest level in more than six decades last year, according to a new analysis by federal regulators, continuing a decade-long decline – though there are some preliminary signs that the death rate may have turned back upward in 2012.

The ongoing decline appears to show the benefits of the latest advanced safety technology, like electronic stability control – some of which can “compensate for poor judgment” — as well as increased usage of simpler, time-tested devices such as seatbelts. Experts also give credit to increased enforcement, especially the crackdown on drunk driving.  Yet another factor, though, may also be the medical knowledge gained from two long wars.

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“The latest numbers show how the tireless work of our safety agencies and partners, coupled with significant advances in technology and continued public education, can really make a difference on our roadways,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “As we look to the future, it will be more important than ever to build on this progress by continuing to tackle head-on issues like seat belt use, drunk driving, and driver distraction.”

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Seatbelt Usage Soars to Record 85%

Why do the other 15% have a death wish?

by on Jan.06, 2011

The kid is no dummy. Americans are buckling up more than ever.

If you’re one of those who can’t even move the car up the driveway without having a seatbelt on, don’t feel alone.  According to the latest survey by the Centers for Disease Control, more Americans than ever are clicking it – but the study also raises questions about those who won’t buckle up despite overwhelming evidence that seatbelts are the most effective safety device ever added to the automobile.

The CDC found that 85% of American motorists are wearing their belts, a dramatic, nearly eight-fold increase over the last 30 years.

“Not wearing seatbelts is costing us lives and money,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. Buckling up, he stressed, “cuts in half the chance of being seriously injured or killed in a crash.”

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The good news is that increased seatbelt usage appears to be paying off in the steady decline in traffic injuries and fatalities.  The highway death rate, which peaked in 1988 at 47,087, fell by nearly a third, to 33,000 in 2009, the latest year for which federal data are available.

Still, an estimated 2.3 million Americans were treated in emergency rooms for crash-related injuries in 2009 and the CDC estimates the annual cost of medical care related to vehicular collisions totals more than $11 billion.

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