US: Traffic Deaths At 61-Year Low

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It may not seem that way when some knucklehead speeds past you on the right, but driving is getting much, much safer: last year the United States recorded the fewest traffic deaths in more than 60 years, according to federal data released on Friday.

An estimated 32,788 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That represents a 25 percent decline since 2005, when there were 43,510 traffic fatalities, and the fewest deaths since 1949 — when “On The Town” won the Academy Award for best score for a musical, a new magazine called Motor Trend named the Cadillac as its first car of the year, and when there were far fewer drivers on America’s pre-Interstate roads.

The reason driving deaths have declined so steeply over the past five years is something of a mystery, but officials and experts point to a combination of factors. Old cars are being replaced by newer models with more safety features, including air bags and antilock brakes. Highways are built or refurbished with more attention to safety, with features like rumble strips and cable median barriers to separate cars from oncoming traffic. Seat belt use is believed to be up, and stricter car-seat laws have made the days when children bounced around in the back of station wagons a distant memory.

(Read More: NY Times)