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  1. #1
    Jenna's Avatar
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    U.S. highway deaths in 2008 fell to their lowest level in nearly 50 years

    U.S. highway deaths in 2008 fell to their lowest level in nearly 50 years, the latest government figures show, as the recession and $4 per gallon gas meant people drove less to save more.

    Safety experts said record-high seat-belt use, tighter enforcement of drunken driving laws and the work of advocacy groups that encourage safer driving habits contributed to the reduction in deaths.

    Preliminary figures released by the government Monday show that 37,313 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year. That's 9.1 percent lower than the year before, when 41,059 died, and the fewest since 1961, when there were 36,285 deaths.

    A different measure, also offering good news, was the fatality rate, the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. It was 1.28 in 2008, the lowest on record. A year earlier it was 1.36.

    "The silver lining in a bad economy is that people drive less, and so the number of deaths go down," said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Not only do they drive less but the kinds of driving they do tend to be less risky there's less discretionary driving."

    Fatalities fell by more than 14 percent in New England, and by 10 percent or more in many states along the Atlantic seaboard, parts of the Upper Midwest and the West Coast, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    "Americans should really be pleased that everyone has stepped up here in order to make driving safer and that people are paying attention to that," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

    In the past, tough economic times have brought similar declines in roadway deaths. Fatalities fell more than 16 percent from 1973 to 1974 as the nation dealt with the oil crisis and inflation. Highway deaths dropped nearly 11 percent from 1981 to 1982 as President Ronald Reagan battled a recession.

    The government said vehicle miles traveled in 2008 fell by about 3.6 percent, to 2.92 trillion miles, indicating many people adjusted their driving habits as gas prices fluctuated and the economy tumbled. The number of miles driven by motorists had risen steadily over the past three decades.

    The figures are preliminary; final numbers and state-by-state totals are expected later in the year.

    Several states have pushed tougher seat belt laws that allow law enforcement officers to stop motorists whose sole offense was failing to buckle up. In 27 states and the District of Columbia, there are such enforcement laws. The remaining states have laws that allow tickets for seat belt violations only if motorists are stopped for other offenses. New Hampshire has no seat belt law for adults.

    Seat belt use in 2008 climbed to 83 percent, a record. Fourteen states and the nation's capital had rates of 90 percent or better. Michigan had the highest seat belt use rate with 97.2 percent, followed by Hawaii with 97 percent and Washington state at 96.5 percent. Massachusetts had the lowest rate, 66.8 percent, while it was under 70 percent in New Hampshire and Wyoming.

    "People finally understand that seat belts save their lives and their children's lives," said former NHTSA administrator Nicole Nason.

    Dave McCurdy, president and chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the industry has worked to improve safety by introducing numerous features such as anti-rollover electronic stability control, air bag systems and crash avoidance technologies.

    But many safety groups said it was unclear if the fatality numbers will continue dropping once the economy improves. If the projections hold, 2008 would be the first year since 1992 when traffic fatalities dipped below 40,000. Even with the declines, more than 100 people die on U.S. roads everyday.

    "We still have too many people who are dying in car crashes," said Jacqueline Gillan, vice president for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

    Bad economy holds highway deaths to 1960s levels

    By KEN THOMAS 1 day ago

    WASHINGTON (AP)

    The Associated Press: Bad economy holds highway deaths to 1960s levels

  2. #2
    lewisipso's Avatar
    lewisipso is offline Injustice/Indifference/In God we trust
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    tighter enforcement of drunken driving laws
    Maybe elsewhere but not here.
    Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me

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    R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012


  3. #3
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    Nor hear. In this city, DUI drivers don't go to jail. However, drive a vehicle on a suspended DL, with the suspension due to a conviction of a DUI, go to jail with a $10,000 bond. WTF over?
    The world would be much cleaner if blind people carried brooms instead of sticks.

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  4. #4
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    I have no doubt that seat belt usage and gas prices are the primary factors. My stepson was killed in a fairly minor car wreck in 2000 because he wasn't wearing a seat belt. The accident was not only survivable, but he would have only gotten minor injuries. As it was, he hit his head on the dashboard and received a fatal head injury. Broke my heart, he was such a neat kid, but bullheaded about seatbelts....

    I can't pull it up and am too lazy to look for it again, but in a debate with another cop over speed vs. drunk drivers, I found some stats that indicated speed was more of a factor in fatal accidents than drunk drivers.

    I never worked traffic, but in the fatal wrecks I recall seeing the aftermath of, in almost all at least one of the drivers was traveling well over the speed limit. As much as I hated Carter's 55 mph freeway speed limit, I do recall that fatal crashes went down significantly. People still sped, but they they did it at 65 and 70. When the speed limit is 65 or 70, they drive 75 and 80.....

    And it stands to reason, fewer cars, fewer crashes.......
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  5. #5
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    Enforcement happens, it is the court that fails here.

    The only solution to DUI enforcement is seizing the car.
    I'm your huckleberry...

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  6. #6
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    I agree with Retdetsgt, gas prices reduced traffic flow, seat belt usages has increased some, and in our area we could actually notice a decrease in the number of high speeders. Some of the major causes we see in accidents are excessive speed, speed too fast for existing conditions, and inattention by idiot drivers. DUI happens as well, but not near as much as the other things. Too often we investigate crashes where someone dies simply due to not wearing a seat belt. There will always be those people that claim "if I was wearing a seat belt I would have been killed"... whatever.. I can't say that it couldn't happen, but I can say what I have seen due to not wearing them.
    To be a good Law Enforcement Officer you MUST know the law!

  7. #7
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
    There will always be those people that claim "if I was wearing a seat belt I would have been killed"... whatever.. I can't say that it couldn't happen, but I can say what I have seen due to not wearing them.
    Most of that is urban legend. Just before my stepson was killed, he was giving me some cock and bull story about some guy not being about to disconnect his seatbelt when his truck was on fire because he was upside down. I had him come out and I sat in my car, fastened myself in and had him pull on the seat belt as hard as he could. I took one finger, hit the release button and he fell on his ass. He still didn't want to wear one.....

    I never worked traffic, but a good friend of my spent over 25 years in it. He told me that he never cut a dead body out of a seat belt. I believe him.
    When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)

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  8. #8
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt View Post
    He told me that he never cut a dead body out of a seat belt. I believe him.
    Seatbelts are certainly all that you say and more, but I have seen dead bodies cut out of them.

    Speed will override a seatbelt, fo sho.
    I'm your huckleberry...

    Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit, occidentus telum est!

    You can be the weapon, and the gun in your hand is a tool - or the gun is a weapon and you are the tool.


    I was looking for a saint who was a devil of a lover,
    but every girl I found was either one way or the other...



 

 

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