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Decrease in Michigan accident fatalities better than national average

This week, the National Highway traffic Safety Administration announced that traffic fatalities had reached their lowest level since deadly car accident statistics began being tracked and recorded nationwide in 1949. The 23,310 traffic deaths in 2011 also marked a 1.7 percent decrease in traffic death compared to 2010. In Michigan the news was even better.

The state of Michigan saw a five percent decrease in the number of accident fatalities in 2011. The larger Great Lakes region in general saw a decrease of more than 3 percent. The decrease in fatalities in Michigan comes despite the fact that there was a one percent increase the total number of motor vehicle accidents.

There are likely many factors that contributed to the decrease in accident fatalities over the last few years. Deaths resulting from car crashes have been declining steadily since a peak in 2005. One factor that likely played a role both nation-wide and particularly in Michigan is the condition of the economy. During difficult economic times there is simply less traffic; fewer people going to and from work or shopping, and fewer trucks hauling manufactured goods and raw materials. As the economy recovers it may mean that some of the apparent progress we have made in reducing the number of accident fatalities is reversed.

Another factor is improved vehicle safety devices and designs as well as better life-saving medical care. But despite the role played by macro-economic trends, airbags, and high-tech surgery, the most important factor in any potential accident is the person behind the wheel.

Source: The Detroit News, "U.S. road deaths fell 1.7 percent in 2011" May 8, 2011

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