The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed to Ward’s Auto that fatalities on U.S. highways have declined by more than 1,000 people in the last year, validating their earlier estimate of 2010 being a record year for safety.
The 2011 Buick LaCrosse, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata and the BMW 5 Series are among some of the new generation of safer passenger vehicles that topped the list of the NHTSA’s safety picks. The agency adopted more stringent testing methods for the 2011 model year and may be responsible for yielding the smallest number of traffic fatalities since 1949.
According to Ronald Medford, the deputy administrator for both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, most traffic fatalities are due to poor driving behavior and alcohol abuse; things Medford points out cannot be legislated away.
Although traffic highway fatalities have stooped to an all-time low in the U.S., 90% of low- and middle-income countries are seeing deaths skyrocket to about 1.3 million per year. In order to stop the trend in its tracks, the United Nations is launching a Decade of Action program from 2011-2020 on May 11 in a worldwide effort to reduce highway deaths.
Also focusing on the more fuel efficient cars, NHTSA is working with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board to create new fuel-economy standards for 2017-2025, zoning in on their goal to save consumers money at the pump — it sounds like a far stretch considering gas prices seem to be out-pacing fuel-efficiency increases lately.
One solution to gas pump woes would be an electric vehicle. However, Medford claims the virtually silent vehicles are a “serious public health problem,” proposing danger to pedestrians and blind people, and that the NHTSA plans to require adding noise to electrics and hybrids at low speeds.
Source: Ward’s Auto