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Old 04-06-09, 07:00 AM   #1
genec
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lowest level of motorist fatalities since 1960's

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090406/...highway_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.

As the economy slid deeper into recession and gas prices reached $4 a gallon last year, the number of people killed in auto accidents hit its lowest level in five decades.

In addition to fewer miles logged by drivers worried about expenses, experts also cited record-high seat-belt use, tighter enforcement of drunken driving laws and the work of advocacy groups that encourage safer driving habits.

Now here is the interesting question... did cyclist deaths also decline?

Supposedly there were more cyclists on the roads due to the high gas prices, and one might surmise that those cyclists were "newbies," at least at commuting. Did the decrease in motorist miles make the roads safer for cyclists?

Here also is an interesting number: "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."

That means that motorists are surviving what accidents do occur. The safety of the motor vehicle has improved.

Unfortunately the NHTSA only has bicycle stats up to 2007.
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810986.PDF

The LAB only has stats up to 2001. (sheesh... talk about "dated data.) Sidenote... talk about skewed statistics... the LAB presents this number for "cyclists:"
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Originally Posted by LAB
According to the survey, approximately 57 million people, 27.3% of the population age 16 or older, rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002.
The bottom line is that motoring has become safer... due in part to less driving, and due in part to better safety equipment. Of course driving still does nothing positive for your overall health (in fact, there are studies that show driving in freeway traffic causes significant increases in blood pressure).

But how have cyclists fared? That is the question here? Did the increase in cyclists (if there really was an increase) relate to more or less cyclist deaths? Did the decrease in motoring coincide with more or less cyclist deaths?
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Old 04-06-09, 10:49 AM   #2
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090406/...highway_deaths

The bottom line is that motoring has become safer... due in part to less driving, and due in part to better safety equipment. ...
Motorists may also be driving slower, less aggressively due to fuel costs. Also, less frivolous driving by the worst drivers -- teens.
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Old 04-06-09, 05:11 PM   #3
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I bet this can be accounted for by:
1. Reduced mileage
2. MADD and drunk driving laws are effective
3. Increased use of safety belts and air bags

I wonder what the rate is like for accidents causing any injury per vehicle mile. Are we becoming safer drivers or are we trading death for injury?
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Old 04-06-09, 05:12 PM   #4
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Motorists may also be driving slower, less aggressively due to fuel costs. Also, less frivolous driving by the worst drivers -- teens.
You really think teen driving is on the decline? I wouldn't think so. When I was a teenager I drove regardless of the price of gas. In september of 2001 the price of gas didn't reduce my driving and I'd just bought a bigger gas guzzler! I simply ended up buying less stuff: Really sad isn't it?
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Old 04-06-09, 09:39 PM   #5
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Could it be the baby boomers are aging? I think it is less driving that does it.
Can you imagine trying to sell the car as a transportation mode if it had just been invented? Only 37,000 people will die each year, millions wounded, it will use about 60% of urban space, will cost 6-$8,000 per year on average, it will decrease your health and your enjoyment of your transportation. Yes, hurry to your local dealer to get in on this amazing offer.

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Old 04-06-09, 10:21 PM   #6
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Driving in the US is a whole lot safer than in 1961, with 89 million US motorists then, and with 200 million today, making the death stats equate to 4.08 deaths per 10,000 registered drivers in 1961 versus 1.87 today. Still motor vehicle accidents only account for less than 2 percent of all US deaths, with major cardiovascular diseases coming in on top with 33.3 per 10,000.
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Old 04-06-09, 10:30 PM   #7
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Motorists may also be driving slower, less aggressively due to fuel costs. Also, less frivolous driving by the worst drivers -- teens.
I'm pretty sure most motorists don't have a clue that slower, less aggressive driving reduces fuel consumption. The most effective way of saving gas is to drive less, which, it seems, is what people did (but only as a result of higher fuel prices).
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Old 04-07-09, 08:38 AM   #8
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Accident and fatality rates have been dropping steadily in Canada for more than 20 years. I think we can discount lower fuel prices or more ecological awareness, for the most part, as those concerns were not always at the fore-front during that time. In contrast, there are more and more drivers. Toronto, for instance, now has an estimated 1.2m car commuters per day and a similar number of licensed drivers. 20 years ago and 10 years ago, there were far less with estimates ranging from 650,000 20 years ago to 800,000 10 years ago, according to some sources I have read.

I attribute the steady decline to car manufacturers are simply putting better and better band-aids on their products: air-bags, improved safety-belts, anti-lock brakes, sensors and cameras are all contributing to 'safer' vehicles as well as improved build quality, much higher sales numbers of better-made foreign cars and a consumer trend toward SUV's. Also, with the increase in cars on the road, roads are slower. The average speed in Toronto, for instance, is 22km/h due to congestion. If manufacturers were truly interested in safety, however, they would not make their products as powerful as they are and able to exceed even the highest allowable road speed by double and more. But still, the numbers don't lie.

Yes, high gas prices and a shift to ecological awareness, carbon-footprint and all that sort of thing have had impacts at certain times, but not enough to suggest they are, in large part, responsible for a steady annual decline, particularly considering the population is aging and as they age they drive more.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:10 AM   #9
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Accident and fatality rates have been dropping steadily in Canada for more than 20 years. I think we can discount lower fuel prices or more ecological awareness, for the most part, as those concerns were not always at the fore-front during that time. In contrast, there are more and more drivers. Toronto, for instance, now has an estimated 1.2m car commuters per day and a similar number of licensed drivers. 20 years ago and 10 years ago, there were far less with estimates ranging from 650,000 20 years ago to 800,000 10 years ago, according to some sources I have read.

I attribute the steady decline to car manufacturers are simply putting better and better band-aids on their products: air-bags, improved safety-belts, anti-lock brakes, sensors and cameras are all contributing to 'safer' vehicles as well as improved build quality, much higher sales numbers of better-made foreign cars and a consumer trend toward SUV's. Also, with the increase in cars on the road, roads are slower. The average speed in Toronto, for instance, is 22km/h due to congestion. If manufacturers were truly interested in safety, however, they would not make their products as powerful as they are and able to exceed even the highest allowable road speed by double and more. But still, the numbers don't lie.

Yes, high gas prices and a shift to ecological awareness, carbon-footprint and all that sort of thing have had impacts at certain times, but not enough to suggest they are, in large part, responsible for a steady annual decline, particularly considering the population is aging and as they age they drive more.
I tend to agree with the bolded statement above... automobiles are protecting the passengers far better these days. Head on collisions were nearly always deadly, prior to the use of air bags, now often the passengers can just walk away... dazed and bruised perhaps, but alive, none the less.

While death rates have declined, I doubt non injury collision rates have changed much... meaning that the driver is still just as falible.

This is why I really wonder about the issues of cyclist death rates under these conditions. Have cyclists fared as well as motorists? Or are the distractions now offered to motorists causing an even greater number of "vulnerable road user" injuries? Ped statistics would also be useful here... have the number of pedestrians injured per year declined?
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