FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Highway Users Alliance Applauds Drop in Traffic Fatalities
“We Must Continue the Momentum to Save More Lives”
(WASHINGTON, DC) April 1, 2011 – Today the American Highway Users Alliance (The Highway Users) commended the decline in road fatalities in 2010, the lowest level recorded since 1949. Traffic deaths have plummeted by 25% over the last five years.
Highway Users President & CEO Greg Cohen remarked, “We are greatly encouraged by the latest fatalities statistics and commend our nation’s responsible drivers as well as vehicle & highway engineers for saving tens of thousands of lives. Redoubled efforts by everyone to improve our highway safety culture can keep us on a path toward zero deaths.
“Last year, the amount of driving jumped up to pre-recession levels yet fatalities have continued to decline. The theory that safety gains were simply a reflection of reduced driving has now been debunked and we can focus on what’s really happening:
For example, the average automobile is 9.5 years old and many of the safety features voluntarily introduced by automakers in the 1990’s and 2000’s are showing their value. Among the most successful features is electronic stability control, which will soon be standard on all new cars. The same advantages are clear for commercial vehicles; fatalities involving trucks and buses have plummeted. Large truck-related deaths dropped 20% in just one year (2008-2009) while buses are the safest form of highway travel.
The impact of better highway engineering and increased infrastructure investments receive less notice but have been shown to be one of the most critical factors in saving lives. A recent study done by SAIC found that the reduction in highway deaths was most tightly correlated to the sharp federal funding increase for the safety core program, created by Congress in 2005 as part of the last multi-year highway bill, SAFETEA-LU.
SAFETEA-LU expired more than 500 days ago and has been in limbo ever since. Congress will vote on a new highway bill this year. It’s expected to place even more emphasis on safety this year, including attention to the #1 crash-type – lane departure. According to Cohen, “the prompt passage of a new highway bill will accelerate the progress in saving lives.”
“We’re making great progress but we’re still losing 33,000 loved ones every year and injuring millions. As America’s drivers think about safety by buckling up, driving sober and defensively, watching out for motorcyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, it’s good to know that professionals are at work making our vehicles and roads safer too.
The American Highway Users Alliance represents AAA clubs, bus companies, truckers, RV enthusiasts, motorcyclists and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members advocate public policies that improve highway safety and mobility.