Slowing highway deaths

There was a time, not so many years ago, when the equivalent of the population of a city larger than Grand Junction — more than 50,000 people — died every year in U.S. highway wrecks.

No more. The rate of highway deaths has been decreasing steadily for decades. And last year it dropped to under 34,000 for the first time since 1954. Furthermore, the rate of fatalities per miles traveled was the lowest ever recorded.

The loss of 34,000 Americans a year on our roads is still too high. But it is worth noting that, at a time when institutions from car makers to government regulators to local police are often under attack for doing things wrong, sometimes they get it right.

Federal officials believe a combination of things have helped drive down the number of traffic fatalities — better vehicles with more safety features, increased use of safety belts and tougher laws against drunken driving being the leading ones.

In any event, it’s nice to know that traveling our streets and highways now is no more dangerous than when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.


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