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.
“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.”