Fewer people nationwide and in California are dying in auto accidents, according to a news report in the Riverside Press-Enterprise. According to this article, which examines an interesting trend in auto accidents, fatalities in auto accidents have dropped nationwide by 3.9 percent from 2006 to 2007. In California, there has been a 6.3 percent drop in roadway fatalities while in New York there has been an 8.3 percent decrease in auto accident-related deaths.
The only area where there has been an increase in fatalities is motorcycle accidents, which have increased nationwide from, 4,837 deaths in 2006 to 5,154 in 2007 – a 6.6 percent increase. This rise in motorcycle accident fatalities has been attributed to an increase in the number of riders.
This is no doubt a promising trend, which officials are attributing to a variety of causes from fewer people driving because of higher gas prices to improvements in auto safety technology. However, this reduction in traffic fatalities is only one side of the coin. There was another study released earlier this year by AAA, which said that accidents costs $164.2 billion each year, which amounts to an annual per person cost of $1,051. While the number of traffic accident related deaths has come down, the total number of traffic accidents continues to increase.
That means more people are suffering property damage and more people are suffering injuries in auto accidents, most of which required some kind of hospitalization or medical treatment. Auto accidents commonly result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries and paralysis, which ends up leaving these victims dependent and needing full-time care for the rest of their lives. Also when you look at California’s roadway fatality rate, it has fluctuated wildly over the last four years. Here’s a breakdown, as provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):
Year Fatalities % change from year before
2003 4,224 3.1 %
2004 4,120 -2.5 %
2005 4,333 5.2 %
2006 4,240 -2.2 %
2007 3,974 -6.3 %
This decrease is good news, but whether it is a temporary turn of events or a consistent downward trend remains to be seen.