Some good news can be found during this recession: fewer motor vehicle fatalities. Less money in pockets of Americans means fewer highway deaths. As the economy worsened and gas prices reach $4 a gallon the number of people killed in accidents hit its lowest level in five decades.
In addition to fewer miles driven, experts also say seat belt use, tighter enforcement of drunk driving and advocacy groups have lowered highway deaths. 37,313 people died in auto-accidents last year, that 9.1 percent lower than the 41,059 deaths in 2007. There were 272 people who died on Utah roads during 2008, the lowest total in 16 years. “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.”
“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 past economic recessions, roadways deaths have also decreased. Fatalities fell more than 16% from 1973 to 1974 as the nation dealt with the oil crises and inflation. Again in 1981 to 1982 highway fatalities fell as Americans battled a recession.
Another bright spot for 2008 was seat belt usage was at a record 83%. Fourteen states posted seat belt usage at 90% or higher! Experts contribute this increase to civic safety groups efforts to educate on seat belt use and law enforcement efforts to penalize those caught driving without buckling up.
Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-666-3959 for a free consultation if you are in need of a Utah car accident attorney.