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Highway Fatalities Down in 2010

Highway fatalities have dropped to an all-time low, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) latest projections.  The NHTSA estimates that the number of auto accident deaths for 2010 dropped to 32,788 in 2010, down 3% from 2009.  The reduction in auto accident fatalities is particularly notable given that the NHTSA also estimates that the total number of miles driven increased by 20.5 billion, or 0.7%.

According to Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood, "Last year's drop in traffic fatalities is welcome news, and it proves that we can make a difference.”  He goes on to note that, nonetheless, “too many of our friends and neighbors are killed in preventable roadway tragedies every day [and w]e 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 fatality rate – or the number of auto accident deaths per 100 billion miles driven - fell from 1.13 to 1.09, which is the lowest fatality rate since the government first began tracking traffic fatalities in 1949.  Since 2005, the number of auto accident deaths has steadily declined by about 25%.

Although the numbers have not been fully analyzed yet to determine the specific categories of fatalities, nor the reasons for the decrease in deaths, some believe that it may be attributed to stricter seat belt laws.  Other possible explanations include the fact that older cars are being replaced by newer models with more safety features, such as air bags and antilock brakes, and that highways are being built or updated with an increased focus on safety and include features such as rumble strips and cable median barriers to separate cars from oncoming traffic.

There are indications, however, that the reductions in the number of auto accident fatalities may be nearing an end.  According to NHTSA data, the number of fatalities in 2010 decreased by 11.4% in the first quarter and 5% in the second quarter of 2010, as compared with 2009, but that the number of fatalities rose 1.6% in the third quarter and 1.8% in the fourth, which is on par with the increase in miles traveled.

The experienced Illinois auto accident attorneys at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are committed to protecting the rights of victims of auto accidents.  If your or a loved one has been injured or killed in an auto accident, contact one of our Chicago area personal injury attorneys to discuss a possible personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  ( is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.

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