We know also that, thanks in large measure to the Department of Transportation’s efforts, new vehicles today are safer than ever when crashes occur. More new vehicles are equipped with advanced safety technologies that can prevent or reduce the severity of crashes in the first place. Unfortunately, our fleet is the oldest in history right now. But if we can help more families afford new vehicles, we expect to see significant safety improvements.
The result of these comprehensive efforts to save lives has been encouraging: Traffic fatalities have declined 33% since 1972. That’s remarkable, especially since there has been a 156% increase in vehicle miles traveled. In fact, the fatality rate in 1972 was nearly four times higher than it is today. Our roads are thankfully much safer than they were 50 years ago, but we still have a long way to go.