It’s no April Fool’s Joke: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Friday that the United States last year had the fewest number of traffic fatalities ever recorded.
However, our Chicago personal injury lawyers reported last month on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog that the National Safety Council had reported that fatal crashes began to increase during the fourth quarter of 2010 as the economic recovery gained steam.
“Last year’s drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news and it proves that we can make a difference,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Still, too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day. We will continue doing everything possible to make cars safer, increase seat belt use, put a stop to drunk driving and distracted driving and encourage drivers to put safety first.”
The 32,788 traffic deaths last year was three percent lower than the 33,808 recorded in 2010 and the lowest level since modern record keeping began in 1949. The number of people killed in traffic accidents has declined 25 percent since 43,510 motorists died in 2005.
“The decrease in traffic fatalities is a good sign, but we are always working to save lives,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “NHTSA will continue pressing forward on all of our safety initiatives to make sure our roads are as safe as they can possibly be.”
Concrete figures will be released by the agency this summer. But early estimates show accidents increased by 1.6 to 1.8 percent in both the third and fourth quarters, confirming the trend identified by the National Safety Council.
And, in fact, Region 5, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan saw an increase of 3.9 percent — the highest increase anywhere in the nation outside New England, where fatalities increased 18 percent last year. Region 2, which includes Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, was the only other area of the nation to report an increase — fatal crashes there were up 2 percent.
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