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Driver Fatality Rates at a Record Low

TX Click it or Ticket
Traffic fatality rates have reached a record low in the Lone Star state. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released its annual data showing that there were 1.34 traffic related deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in Texas in 2009. That number is .14 less than in 2008. Traffic fatalities rates have been recorded for the last 75 years. In 1935, Texas had a death rate of 16.6 per 100 million vehicle miles.

Authorities attribute the reduction in the death rate to safer vehicles, increased usage of safety belts, and public-awareness campaigns reminding drivers to be safe on the road. The economy is also thought to be a factor. In an effort to cut costs (and conserve gas) people have started driving less.

Nationally, in 2009 there were 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled according to an NHTSA study that released in August, 2010. Across the country were 33,808 traffic related fatalities in 2009. That is the lowest since 1950!
The state of Texas had 3,071 traffic fatalities in 2009. That’s a 12 percent decrease from 2008 and the fewest deaths in 17 years. These declines are happening in despite the increasingly congested roadways across the state and drivers distracted by their cell phones. Authorities attribute these declines to the safety innovations that have been implemented over the past few decades.

Seat belts and air bags have been the most beneficial of the aforementioned safety innovations. Over the past few decades, state seat belt laws were made tougher. Now, everyone in the car is required to wear a safety belt or be secured in a car seat. Additionally, children are now required to remain in a car seat until age 7. Previously, it was required until age 2. These amendments to existing laws and the “Click It, or Ticket” program helped the state of Texas achieve 93.8 percent compliance with the seat belt laws in 2009.

Technological advancements have also aided the decrease in traffic related fatalities in Texas and across the country. Automakers are using new technology and more advanced crash tests to make vehicles safer than ever before. Shatter-proof safety glass is just one example of the many new ways that automakers have found to make passenger vehicles safer.

Passenger vehicles are not all that is being designed with safety in mind. Nowadays, roadways are also being designed for safety. In the past five years, Texas has spent $1.2 billion on road improvement projects. They projects have added 270 left turned lanes, installed miles of median barriers (made of either concrete or cable), and widened 2,200 narrow roads.

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