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Highway Deaths Down Nationally in 2013

According to the National Highway traffic Safety Administration, there were an estimated 7,200 motor vehicle deaths in the first quarter of 2013.  While this is a decrease from the first quarter of 2012, there was also a decrease in vehicle miles driven.

According to the NHSA the death rate seems to be trending down – in 2005 there were 43,501 deaths, with decreases in each subsequent year ranging from 1.8% decrease in 2006 to 9.5% decrease in 2009; but, in 2012, there was a 4.4% increase in the total fatality rate.

Massachusetts Data from the NHSA

 According to the NHSA statistics on Massachusetts  in the last year that they publish the specific data breakdown for, 2011, there were 337 fatalities, with a rate of .62 fatalities per 100 million miles driven.   A further breakdown shows that 229 of the fatalities were passenger vehicles occupants; 114 were related to alcohol-impaired drivers, 103 were related to speeding; and, 36 were related to motorcycles (30 of those were wearing helmets).  The total number of drivers involved in fatal crashes was 454 in 2011.

Massachusetts had 6.75 fatalities per 100,000 of population in 2011, compared with 13.70 in the United Stated; but the best state ratio was 6.53.  Thus, our statistics are excellent compared with the rest of the country, but they could be better.  Moreover, they should be better and would be better if more folks used seat belts, did not drive drunk, and avoided distracted driving.

Of significance is that there were 58 pedestrian fatalities involving motor vehicles in 2011.  This was down from 68 in 2010, but there were 46 in 2009.

Fatalities per Mile Driven

As indicated above, the NHSA also looks at the rate of fatalities per mile driven.  In 2005 there were 1.45 deaths per 100 million miles vehicle miles driven.  The rate has decreased steadily to 2011 when there were 1.10 deaths per 100 million miles driven.  The rate in 2012 was 1.14.  The rate for the first quarter of 2013 was 1.04 deaths per 100 million miles driven, a clear decrease, but with data only for one quarter.

An analysis of the data that the NHSA publishes shows that there tend to be trends for periods of a few years when the percentage change of fatalities goes down, or up.  For example, there were 11 quarters between 1981 and 1984 in which the percentage change in fatalities was down versus the previous quarter.  This happened again for 11 quarters between 1990 and 1993.  Between 2006 and 2010, there were 17 such quarters.  

NHSA Data Collection

How does the NHSA get their data?  They mainly use police accident reports, which are generally a good and complete record of who was injured, or killed, how many cars were involved, and other facts that can be plugged into the NHSA’s statistics.  While we have not seen accident reports from many states other than Massachusetts and surrounding states, those reports are excellent sources of information for the types of statistics that the NHSA keeps track of.