The Department of Transportation (DOT) has reported a decline in U.S. highway deaths for the first time since 1949. This news has some people and organizations encouraged.
The updated traffic fatalities report indicates that traffic deaths in 2010 were the lowest they’ve been with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicles on the road. In 2009, that number was 1.15.
In the same year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the DOT agency that reports on traffic fatalities, started reporting a new category of traffic fatality – Distraction-Affected Crashes. This category measures how many traffic deaths are a result of a distracted driver. Distractions can be anything from cell phone usage to non-driver related distractions.
The Association of Global Automakers attributes the decline in traffic deaths to the auto industry’s focus on safety technology. This safety technology includes items such as Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, lane departure warning systems, active front head restraints, and collision mitigation systems.
Of course, technology can play a part in saving lives and making cars safer, but there is no substitute for driver-learned behaviors.
When it comes to safe driving, keep your speed down, don’t text and drive, and refrain from applying make up, shaving, talking on the phone, playing with the radio, or engaging in other risky behavior that takes your mind off of driving and your eyes off of the road.