In addition to the news that motorcycle deaths were down in 2013, the fatality report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contains several interesting facts. Perhaps most interesting was the fact that there were quite a few more total vehicle crashes in 2013 than in 2012. Total crashes were up 3 percent, but injuries and deaths were both down. That might indicate that efforts to improve driver ability were ineffective, but advances designed to improve the survivability of an accident made a difference. Given the effort put into combating drunk driving, distracted driving and fatigued driving, facts that show an increase in accidents are noteworthy.
When it comes to driver conduct behind the wheel, there are two trends that continue to plague safety advocates. First, more than 10,000 fatalities in 2013 were connected to drivers impaired by alcohol. That number continues to hover around one-third of all fatalities, as it has for several years now. Second, a large percentage of the people killed in passenger vehicles were not wearing seat belts. Roughly half of the people who die in passenger vehicle accidents are unbelted. Research has demonstrated clearly that wearing a seat belt is the best way to avoid dying in a car wreck.
Curbing or eliminating drunk driving would save thousands of lives each year. Ensuring that every driver and passenger was properly secured (whether with a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt) would save thousands more.
Source: Transport Topics, “Editorial: NHTSA’s Fatalities Report,” 5 January 2015