Driving a car has never been safer
Driving could be a stressing activity. Not because of the way you drive, but because of other reckless drivers who don’t think twice before using their I-pods, mobile phones etc while driving. However, according statistics from the department of motor vehicles, records show that American motorists are safer than ever before. Yet, it is very difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for a downfall in accidents.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been maintaining detailed records since the 1970s. Surprisingly and fortunately, the rate of casualties per 100 million miles of vehicles travel is at its lowest in the U.S. ever since such data is being maintained. The government figures vouch for the fact that during recessions, like the mid-2009, the number of deaths reduces drastically on the highways. The reasons are quite apparent, lesser people go to work and hence the probability of an accident reduces. Also, people spend less on gas, opt out of long drives, cut short on travel and hence the roadways become a safer place.
Apart from these short term facts, figures and logistics, one would be more interested in the long term developments in which economic cycles stabilize and hence no biased reports are found. According to the latest study revealed by NHTSA, there were 1.19 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles covered in the mid 2009. The first quarter figure for the same year was around 1.1. The death over miles traveled ratio in 2005 was 1.46. In absolute numbers there were 43,510 fatalities reported on the U.S. road. On comparing this, it is expected that lesser than 35,000 people would loose their lives in road accidents this year.
NHTSA does not record, reveal or explain the reason behind each and every accidental death or why certain dreadful accidents did not end up in a casualty etc. Experts find it very difficult to point out one exact reason behind the reduction in road accidents. This trend for improvement and lesser number of deaths has been continuing for over a decade. Speaking broadly, stricter norms and better safety techniques could be responsible for the improvement in the road scenario in U.S.
There has been considerable improvement in safety technology used in cars. In 2009 there were around 10.3% cars which did not offer air bags. Whereas even ten year back this figure was as high as 77%. Further more, about 65% of the cars today offer head and torso protecting air bags too. These standard equipments help save many a precious life.
Skidding is prevented by using car brakes which comes with electronic stability control. A meager 9% of the vehicles in the U.S. were found equipped with this technology in 1999. However today it has become standard equipment. 2009 witnessed each and every sports car had this technology and about 74% of the other cars also offered it. All in all, the figure rested high up as within a decade 85% of vehicles sold were offering this life saving technique.
Stricter speed enforcement laws, seat belt norms etc have compelled motorists also to drive way better than they used to. In the mid 1990s only about 60% of the motorists were found to be wearing seat belts. Today 84% wear it and the figures are expected to rise with more awareness being created. Credit for this drastic improvement could be given to the ‘click it or ticket’ campaign. The government also enforces stricter rules against drinking and driving, this also leads to lesser number of accidents.
Another significant and note worthy development has been the improvement in the highways are constructed. Rumble strips are useful in preventing drowsy drivers from skidding towards pavements. There are barriers which create distinct divisions in highways and helps prevent unnecessary collisions.
The national fatality rate target was set at 1.0 recently. This was considered to be one of those unachievable long term goals. However this impossible target could be achieved sooner if not later.
Texas Transport Institutions center has recently revealed that there has been a steady rise in motor cyclist accidents. In fact it accounts for about 15% of all road deaths that occur in Texas. Regulators are aiming for stricter helmet laws for motorists. This comes in the backdrop of many states repealing the motor cycle helmet laws. The NHTSA rightly says that if number of accidents and deaths has to be reduced then motorcyclists cannot be ignored.
Besides, with increased prices offered for car insurance rates and tougher penalties, drivers have become more aware of the financial benefits of safe driving.