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Traffic fatalities at a historic low in Michigan

As anyone who has lost a loved one in a serious car accident knows, even a single fatal car accident is one too many. But a recent report from Michigan radio says that the number of fatal accident is Michigan over the last few years has been at the lowest level seen since the 1940's.

There are several reasons that the rate of motor vehicle accident fatalities in Michigan is reaching historically low numbers. Cars and trucks today have more advanced safety features such as a airbags and force absorbing crumple zones to minimize the risk that drivers will suffer a serious or fatal injury if they are in a crash. The other reason is related to the economic downturn over the last few years. Reduced commercial and commuter traffic during a recession means that less people die on Michigan highways.

The reduction in fatal accidents may be a silver lining on a very large economic gray cloud. The reduced amount of traffic as a result of the economic sluggishness in 2010 resulted in the lowest amount of accidents in Michigan since 1963. In 1968, just five years after the year with a record low number of crashes, Michigan recorded the most deaths ever in traffic accidents with 2,392. The most crashes on record was in 1966 with 435, 477.

Lower amounts of traffic provide for some extra leeway for a driver who veers out of their lane or gets distracted. With fewer cars it is less likely that these behaviors will result in an accident. Despite these circumstances which have a statistical impact on the number of fatal accidents, the most important factor in any individual accident is the person behind the wheel. A drunk or distracted driver is still a threat to the lives of every other person on the road.

Source: Michigan Radio "Fewest traffic fatalities in Michigan since the 1940s," Lester Graham, Sept 26, 2011

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