NHTSA: Vehicle safety advances reducing crashes

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June 19, 2012—New model vehicles that are better-designed and equipped with additional safety features have lead to a decline in crashes, deaths and injuries on U.S. roadways, according to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The NHTSA’s report, which is based on police-reported crash data, estimates that design improvements in 2000 through 2008 model-year vehicles saved 2,000 lives and prevented 1 million occupant injuries during the 2008 calendar year.

In addition, the NHTSA said the likelihood of escaping a crash uninjured improved from 79 percent to 82 percent as a result of vehicle design improvements.

"Between better safety practices developed at the Department of Transportation and improved designs by automakers, we are making real progress protecting drivers and passengers nationwide," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We celebrate the historic decline in deaths and injuries on our roads as we remain laser-focused on continuing to improve safety."

The NHTSA said traffic fatalities have been on a steady decline during the past decade. Traffic fatalities dropped to 32,885 in 2010, the lowest level in 60 years.

"We expect this trend to continue as automakers add advanced safety features to their fleets and continue to improve vehicle designs to earn top safety ratings under our newly updated 5-Star crash-test program," said David Strickland, administrator of the NHTSA. "Safer cars, along with safer drivers and roads, are key components in ensuring the annual number of traffic fatalities remains on a downward trajectory."

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