Despite a steady increase in population and roadway traffic, the 2011 report by the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract had some good news for drivers and passengers. Traffic accidents and fatalities have been consistently declining. The latest report, which combines a variety of analysis from federal, state and private organizations, includes information on traffic accidents from the years 1980-2008. Happily, the latest report shows not only an improvement in traffic safety nationally, but nearly across the board for every individual state.
Nationally, the number of reported motor vehicles accidents occurring on roadways in 2008 was a stunning 5.8 million. However, this is a decline of 213,000 from the previous year’s total of over 6 million. While this decrease is a happy sign of improvements for road safety, it is simply part of a larger trend signifying a consistent, long-term decrease in crashes. For instance, in 1995 approximately 6.7 million traffic accidents were reported -- nearly 900,000 more than in 2008.
From 2007 to 2008, national motor vehicle deaths declined from 41,300 to 37,300. More importantly, 2008 represented the lowest reported number of motor vehicle fatalities within the eighteen years of data reflected in the analysis. All but two states reported decreases in traffic fatalities from 2005 to 2008, with Vermont remaining the same, and West Virginia reporting the only increase. Despite West Virginia’s year-over-year increase, like every state it has seen its number of fatalities per driver drop since 1990.
The report also shows an overall reduction in traffic fatalities for almost all vehicle types. Because passenger vehicles account for the majority of traffic on the roadways, they are also involved in the highest number of accidents. Of reported fatal crashes in 2008, 39% involved passenger cars while 29% involved light trucks such as pick-ups or vans. However, from 2007 to 2008, there were over 2000 fewer fatalities involving passenger cars and about 1700 fewer involving light trucks. Large trucks, such as semis, showed their first improvement in years with a decrease of fatal accidents from 805 to 677 in 2008. Unfortunately, buses and motorcycles did not see similar improvements. Fatalities involving bus crashes jumped a staggering 85% from 36 in 2007 to 67 in 2008. And fatal motorcycle crashes increased from 5,174 to 5,290, a number which reflects a trend since 1995 of steadily increasing motorcycle-related fatalities.
For drivers, passengers and pedestrians, it is comforting to know their safety on the road is improving. Increases in technology, such as air bags, combined with stricter safety laws, like mandatory seat-belt use, are making vehicles and roadways safer every day. While accidents will always be a fact of life, it is helpful to know improvements in safety can and have been made. If you are, however, one of the millions a year who are still involved in a motor vehicle accident, be aware of your rights and responsibilities. Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer who can assist you.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyer that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.