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Study says driving getting safer

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

While dying in a car crash is still the leading cause of death for Americans in most age groups, traffic fatalities have dropped to historic lows, according to data recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA. According to the agency's fatality and injury data for 2010, there were 32,885 deaths, the lowest amount since 1949. This historic low is even more noteworthy since American drivers traveled 46 billion more miles in 2010 than in 2009, an increase of 1.9 percent.

Deaths associated with car crashes dropped in most categories for 2010, however there were increases in deaths among occupants of large trucks (6 percent), as well as riding motorcycles (0.7 percent) and pedestrians (4.2 percent). Among those killed in traffic crashes overall, 51 percent were not restrained.

Not surprisingly, the decrease in deaths meant an overall increase in injuries. In 2010, 2,243,000 people were injured in traffic crashes, an increase of 1.2 percent over 2009. Among the most notable changes in injuries from car crashes were a 19 percent increase in pedestrian injuries and an 8.9 percent decrease in motorcycle injuries.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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