So the National Safety Council announced some interesting findings this week in terms of U.S. highway safety: namely that the so-called “death rate” per 100 million miles of travel dropped to its lowest level ever last year.
The group said its preliminary estimate of approximately 35,400 motor vehicle fatalities for 2014 translates into an annual mileage death rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million miles traveled – matching the lowest NSC preliminary estimate on record, the organization emphasized.
Now, NSC did note that its 2014 highway fatality estimate details an increase of slightly under 50 deaths compared to 2013, with its crash injuries estimate at about 4.3 million due to vehicle accidents remaining unchanged from 2013.
Yet the nearly stable number of motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. when analyzed alongside a period of “economic expansion” and greater roadway usage, with annual unemployment rates falling 16% and estimated miles traveled on U.S. roads increasing 1.4%, means that even despite more driving highway death rates are dropping.
Still, this isn’t a champagne-cork-popping moment by any means, as 34,500 deaths and 4.3 million injuries represent astronomical levels of pain, suffering and grief.
There’s also the fiscal damage caused by vehicle crashes, too, NSC stressed, as the estimated cost of motor vehicle deaths, injuries and property damage in 2014 topped $288.9 billion, according to the group’s figuring, though that’s less than a half-percent increase from 2013.
It sum, it means while we’re on the right track, we’ve still got an awful long way to go in terms of highway safety. That’s an effort – indeed, a journey – that’s truly never going to end.