Ten Significant Public Health Achievements ― United States, 2001-2010: Motor Vehicle Safety
Motor vehicle crashes are among the top ten causes of death for Americans of all ages and the leading cause of death for children, teens, and young adults (aged 5-34 years).1 In terms of years of life lost, motor vehicle crashes rank third, behind only cancer and heart disease and account for approximately $99 billion in medical and lost work costs annually.1,2 Crash-related deaths and injuries are largely preventable. From 2000 to 2009, while the number of vehicle miles traveled on the nation’s roads increased by 8.5%, the death rate related to that travel declined from 14.9 per 100,000 population to 11.0 and the injury rate declined from 1,130 to 722; among children, the number of pedestrian deaths declined by 49% and the number of bicyclist deaths declined by 58%.3,4
These successes result from progress in several domains including safer vehicles, safer roadways, and safer road user behavior. Behavior was improved by protective policies including strong seat belt and child safety seat legislation; 49 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have enacted seat belt laws for adults and all 50 states and DC have enacted legislation that protects children riding in vehicles. Graduated drivers licensing policies for teenage drivers have helped bring the number of teen crash deaths down.
CDC’s role in motor vehicle safety has been to advance the science around what we know works; for example, evaluating the effectiveness of seat belt laws, child safety seat laws, child safety seat distribution and education programs, and graduated drivers licensing (GDL) policies. Next, CDC can bring public health and traffic safety professionals together to more efficiently and effectively produce further reductions in crash-related injury and death.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). 2011 [cited April 13, 2011]; Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars
- Naumann RB, Dellinger AM, Zaloshnja E, et al. Incidence and total lifetime costs of motor vehicle-related fatal and nonfatal injury by road user type, United States, 2005. Traffic Inj Prev. 2010 Aug;11(4):353-60.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2009 Children. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation; 2010. Report No.: DOT HS 811-387.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2009 (early edition): US Department of Transportation; 2010. Report No.: DOT HS 811-402.
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