As millions of Americans get in their cars this week to visit friends and families for the Holiday, NPR is running a series on Road Safety. On The Road to Safety is a weeklong multimedia report from NPR on highway safety:
Throughout this week, National Public Radio will be airing stories and hosting conversations about highway safety. We’ll explore the many ways that safety has been improved through better vehicle technology, smarter road designs, and reformed behaviors, such as reduced drunken driving.
The changes have yielded dramatic results: In 1969, the driving-related fatality rate in this country was 5 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The current rate is about 1.27 deaths.
But fatalities are still high because of the many dangers that remain, especially on rural roads where trucks, RVs and passenger cars frequently collide. And new risks are emerging as more and more drivers look away from the road to send text messages. At the same time, tens of millions of aging baby boomers are entering the years when driving skills will be declining significantly.
In coming decades, will we see more advances in safety because of new technologies and laws? Or will we see fatality rates start to rise again?