Decline of traffic fatalities continue

by Cornelius Nunev

The NHTSA has released its traffic fatality report for 2010. The volume of traffic deaths, in decline for many years, has continued to do this.

Alcohol won't go away

Someone who has been drinking alcohol and is then driving is more dangerous than many other things. The most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report came out and showed information on traffic fatalities. It showed that several deaths are still coming from drunk driving.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 31 percent of all traffic deaths in 2010 were linked to alcohol. There were 10,228 traffic fatalities related to alcohol in 2010, which represents a 4.9 percent drop from 2009, when there were 10,759 traffic deaths due to alcohol, according to USA Today.

Another problem is distracted driving. There were 3,092 traffic deaths from "distraction-affected" crashes, though NHTSA criteria for what constitutes distracted driving has been changed for this year. In 2009, there were 5,474 fatalities that were distracted related.

Expect to see fewer fatalities

Since the 1980s, there have been de-creases in traffic deaths. They have been going down quite a bit, the Wall Street Journal explains. The biggest decreases have been seen in deaths from drunk driving. Since the year 2000, fatalities from drunk driving decreased from 17,380 in that year to 10,228 in 2010, a 41 percent drop.

There has been a 2.9 percent decline from 2009 to 2010 in traffic fatali-ties ending in 32,885 of them total, which is the lowest rate of fatalities since 1949, according to MSNBC. That reduction comes in spite of Americans driving an additional 46 billion miles last year, a 1.6 percent increase in miles traveled, as reported by USA Today. Overall, Americans logged about 3 trillion miles on the nation's roads.

The group under 21 saw the biggest decrease in fatalities. Between 2006 and 2010, deaths among young people declined by 39 percent. In that same period, total traffic deaths decreased 23 percent. The volume of fatalities in light trucks and automobiles for passen-gers went down also. There were more deaths with pedestrians, heavy trucks and motor-cycles when it came to passengers though.

Distracted driving higher than anticipated

The volume of incidents that are popping up from distracted driving, mostly such as phones, are going up, which concerns the NHTSA, as reported by Automobile Magazine.

This year's report considered whether or not a phone was in use when the crash occurred. In 2009, the survey only considered whether or not a phone was found at the crash scene. The NHTSA is worried that phones are causing more deaths than they need to. There are increasingly more mobile phone-related deaths happening.

To be able to better gauge how drivers respond to typical distractions, such as a phone call, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is planning a study in which subjects' automobiles will be fitted with cameras and sensors. The data will be collected and analyzed. This will allow the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to de-termine whether or not people are really distracted by things. That study is projected to be completed by 2014.

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