In 2011 the number of fatalities per vehicle miles traveled was the lowest ever, the Department of Transportation said. Technology and education are credited with the improved US road safety.
David J. Phillip/AP/File
Improved technologies and education made America’s roads safer in 2011 than they’d been in more than 60 years, especially for occupants of passenger vehicles, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) reported Monday, and the number of fatalities per vehicle miles traveled was at its lowest level ever.
But DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cautioned that the good news was no reason for American drivers to lower their guard, saying fatalities were still on the rise in some categories, for example for cyclists of all stripes – pedal and motor – and as a result of distracted drivers.
According to NHTSA, traffic fatalities fell to 32,367 in 2011, a 1.9 percent drop over 2010 and the lowest since 1949.
Experts say the reasons for the decline are better seatbelt and airbag technologies, improved driver behaviors on the highways, and more safely designed cars. There has also been more emphasis in recent years on formal official programs to improve safety.
“We’re confident that NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings Program and nationwide collaborations like ‘Click It or Ticket’ and ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ have played a key role in making our roads safer,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.