Government Confirms Significant Drop in Car Accidents in 2008
There were over 200,000 less automobile accidents across the country in
2008 than in the previous year according to the latest data released last week by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In addition, the number of traffic fatalities in 2008 reached its lowest level since 1961. NHTSA's 2008 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) uncovered a decline of 3,998 fatalities in 2008, making it the largest annual reduction in terms of both number and percentage since 1982.
As its name implies, the FARS system is chiefly concerned with fatal accidents but collects and publishes information it collects from all accidents including crashes resulting in property damage only.
In 2008, there were 5.81 million accidents of all types in the US, down 213,0000 from the 6.02 million crashes in 2007. The percentage decline in the total number of crashes was 3.5 percent from 2007 to 2008.
Interestingly, this figure closely matches the 3.4 percent decline in overall Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as reported in the most recent estimates from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Overall 2008 VMT decreased to 2,925,503 million from 3,029,822 million miles in 2007.
A group called the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) believes that the recent reduction in fatalities is only a temporary phenomenon stemming from the reduced driving caused by the current economic recession and higher gas prices.
Judith Lee Stone, President of the Advocates said, "In previous recessions - the early 1980s and early 1990s - a similar dramatic drop in car crash fatalities was evident, due to greatly reduced exposure and many fewer discretionary trips taken by motorists.
Advocates is dedicated to achieving more permanent, substantial reductions in the number of deaths and injuries by adopting key policy improvements at the federal and state levels such as graduated licensing laws, primary enforcement of seat belt laws, electronic on-board recorders for commercial vehicles, and mandatory ignition interlock devices for first-offense drivers convicted of drunk driving.