The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today announced that better-designed, safer vehicles have contributed to an overall decline in crashes, deaths and injuries on U.S. roadways. In a new NHTSA report issued today, the agency’s analysis of police-reported crash data estimates that design improvements between the 2000 model year and 2008 cars helped save 2,000 lives and prevented one million occupant injuries in the 2008 calendar year alone.
The NHTSA report shows the chance of escaping a crash uninjured improved from 79% to 82% as a result of improvements between those years. The report used statistical models to isolate vehicle improvements from human and environmental factors.
NHTSA estimated that the likelihood of crashing in 100,000 miles of driving has decreased from 30% in a model year 2000 car to 25% in a 2008 one, when both vehicles are driven “as new.”
NHTSA data show traffic fatalities have been on a steady decline in the past decade, falling to 32,885 in 2010 – the lowest level in six decades – despite Americans driving more miles than previous years. Improvements were also found for light trucks and vans, and for the chances of surviving a crash and avoiding incapacitation.
“We expect this trend to continue as automakers add advanced safety features to their fleets and continue to improve vehicle designs to earn top safety ratings under our newly updated 5-Star crash-test program,” said David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator. “Safer cars, along with safer drivers and roads, are key components in ensuring the annual number of traffic fatalities remains on a downward trajectory.”