We Are Leaders — For the Wrong Reason

Crash 4        We are leading the world – in the wrong direction regarding motor vehicle fatalities.

About 90 people die each day from motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., resulting in the highest death rate among 19 high-income countries used for comparison, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Though the U.S. has made progress in road safety, reducing crash deaths by 31% from 2000 to 2013, other high-income countries have reduced crash deaths even further by an average of 56% during the same period. The discrepancy underscores the potential for the U.S. to decrease road fatalities further using proven enforcement methods.

If the U.S. had the same motor vehicle crash death rate as Belgium in 2013 — the country with the second highest death rate after the U.S.  — about 12,000 fewer lives would have been lost and an estimated $140 million in direct medical costs would have been averted. And if the U.S. had the same rate as Sweden in 2013 — the country with the lowest crash death rate — about 24,000 fewer lives would have been lost and an estimated $281 million in direct medical costs would have been averted.

Each year about half the passenger vehicle occupants who die in crashes in the U.S. are unrestrained. The report noted that “implementing primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover occupants in all seating positions, and requiring the use of car seats and booster seats for motor vehicle passengers through at least age 8 years, could increase restraint use and prevent injuries and deaths in the United States.”